We conducted a 30-d manipulative experiment in Valley Creek, Minnesota, to examine interspecific interactions between juvenile brown trout Salmo trutta and adult slimy sculpin Cottus cognatus. We measured the instantaneous growth of each species in the presence and absence of the other in 1-m2 enclosures. We tested single-species (three slimy sculpins/m2 or three brown trout/m2) and combined-species (three sculpins/m2 and three trout/m2) combinations in each of six riffles. We placed a clay tile in each enclosure to evaluate the effects of fish combinations on benthic macroinvertebrates. Growth of brown trout was unaffected by the presence of slimy sculpins (P = 0.647, power [to detect 50% increase in growth] = 0.92), whereas slimy sculpin growth was less in the presence of brown trout (P = 0.038). Densities of total benthic macroinvertebrates, Chironomidae, Trichoptera, and Physa did not differ among fish combinations (P > 0.3). However, densities of Gammarus pseudolimnaeus were significantly less in the presence of brown trout irrespective of the presence of slimy sculpins (P = 0.024), which could be a causal factor underlying the interaction between brown trout and slimy sculpins. We found asymmetrical competition between brown trout and slimy sculpins in stream enclosures, with brown trout being the superior competitor. Nevertheless, the size of enclosures may have biased our results, making it more likely to detect an effect of brown trout on slimy sculpins than vice versa.
Additional publication details
Interspecific interactions between brown trout and slimy sculpin in stream enclosures