Temperature-mediated Feeding Between Spring-associated and Riverine-associated Congeners, with Implications for Community Segregation




Craig, Cody A.
Maikoetter, Jeremy D.
Bonner, Timothy H.

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PeerJ Inc.


Freshwater fish communities segregate along water temperature gradients attributed in part to temperature-mediated physiological processes that affect species fitness. In spring complexes of southwest USA, spring complexes with narrow range of water temperatures are dominated by a community of fishes (i.e., spring-associated fishes), whereas riverine habitats with wide-range of water temperatures are dominated by a different community of fishes (i.e., riverine-associated fishes). The purpose of this study was to test a prediction of the concept that temperature-mediated species performance is a mechanism in maintaining community segregation. We predicted that a spring-associated fish (Largespring Gambusia Gambusia geiseri) would feed first and more often in a pairing with a riverine-associated fish (Western Mosquitofish G. affinis) at an average spring temperature (23 °C) and that the riverine-associated fish would feed first and more often in a pairing with the spring-associated fish at a warm riverine temperature (30 °C). Among four trails consisting of 30 pairings, at the spring complex temperature (23 °C), Largespring Gambusia had a greater number of first feeds (mean ± 1 SD, 5.0 ± 0.82) than Western Mosquitofish (2.5 ± 1.73) and had greater mean number of total feeds (1.9 ± 0.31) than Western Mosquitofish (0.81 ± 0.70). At the riverine environment temperature (30 °C), Western Mosquitofish had a greater number of first feeds (5.25 ± 1.71) than Largespring Gambusia (2.5 ± 1.73) and had greater mean number of total feeds (2.78 ± 1.05) than Largespring Gambusia (0.94 ± 0.68). Our findings suggest that temperature-mediated species performance could be maintaining segregation between the two fish communities. This study benefits our understanding of distributional patterns and improves threat assessments of stenothermal aquatic organisms.



aquaculture, fisheries and fish science, ecology, freshwater biology, temperature-mediated, feeding performance, stenothermal, eurythermal, condition specific performance, Gambusia, Gambusia geiseri, animal behavior, Gambusia affinis, spring complex, animal behavior, Biology


Craig, C. A., Maikoetter, J. D., & Bonner, T. H. (2019). Temperature-mediated feeding between spring-associated and riverine-associated congeners, with implications for community segregation. PeerJ, 6(e6144).


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© 2019 Craig et al.

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