The ruffe Gymnocephalus cernuus is a European percid that was accidently introduced in Duluth Harbor, Lake Superior. This nonindigenous species is closely related to yellow perch Perca flavescens, and because the two species have similar diets and habitat requirements, they are potential competitors. Laboratory studies in aquaria and pools were conducted to determine whether ruffe can compete with yellow perch for food. Ruffe had capture rates similar to those of yellow perch when food was unlimited. Ruffe spent more time than yellow perch over a feeding container before leaving it and searching again, and they also required less time to ingest (or handle) prey. However, the presence of yellow perch shortened the time ruffe spent over foraging areas when food was more limited. In addition, yellow perch were more active than ruffe, as indicated by their more frequent visits to a feeding container. Hence, the outcome of exploitative competition was not conclusive; ruffe appear to have the advantage in some behaviors, yellow perch in others. Ruffe were much more aggressive than yellow perch, and interference competition may be important in the interactions between these species. Our results indicate that ruffe might compete with native yellow perch.
Additional publication details
Competition between nonindigenous ruffe and native yellow perch in laboratory studies