To investigate whether introductions of nonnative trout affect growth and diet of nongame fish in small streams, we designed a field experiment to examine interactions between slimy sculpin Cottus cognatus and native brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis or nonnative brown trout Salmo trutta. We hypothesized that brown trout would compete with and reduce growth of slimy sculpin. We expected no change in slimy sculpin growth in treatments with brook trout because the two species co-occur in their native range and thus may have evolved methods to partition resources and decrease competitive interactions. Enclosures (1 m2) were stocked with (1) juvenile brown trout and slimy sculpin, (2) juvenile brook trout and slimy sculpin, or (3) slimy sculpin alone (control). Fish were stocked at three densities to examine intraspecific versus interspecific competition. Replicates of each treatment were placed in riffles in Valley Creek, Minnesota, and six experimental trials were conducted over three summers (2002-2004). Brown trout presence was associated with reduced growth of large slimy sculpin in enclosures, whereas brook trout presence produced no change in slimy sculpin growth; these effects did not depend on fish density. Brown trout or brook trout presence was not associated with shifts in the diets of slimy sculpin, indicating that reduced slimy sculpin growth in the presence of brown trout was not due to prey selection or prey availability changes. Our research suggests that effects on growth of slimy sculpin in Valley Creek differ between introduced brown trout and native brook trout; however, the mechanisms underlying changes in slimy sculpin growth are unclear. Although brook trout and brown trout appear to fill similar ecological roles in small, coldwater streams, brown trout may negatively impact growth of nongame fish. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2007.
Additional Publication Details
Interactions between slimy sculpin and trout: Slimy sculpin growth and diet in relation to native and nonnative trout