This study was conducted to characterize trophic relationships of small nonnative fishes and to determine if predation by these fishes contributes to the decline of desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius), an endangered cyprinodont on the verge of extinction. We sampled 403 hybrid Mozambique tilapias (Oreochromis mossambica by O. urolepis), 107 redbelly tilapias (Tilapia zillii), 32 longjaw mudsuckers (Gillkhthys mirabilis), 182 western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), 222 sailfin mollies (Poecilia latipinna), 63 shortfin mollies (Poecilia mexicana), and 235 porthole livebearers (Poecilurpsis gracilis) from a natural creek and four agricultural drains during September 1999- December 2001. Evidence of piscivory was in gastrointestinal contents of 14 hybrid Mozambique tilapias, 3 redbelly tilapias, 10 longjaw mudsuckers, 8 western mosquitofish, 2 sailfin mollies, and 8 porthole livebearers. Although digestion often was too advanced for identification of fishes consumed by nonnative fishes, remains of desert pupfish were in gastrointestinal contents of a longjaw mudsucker. Our findings, along with Field evidence from other studies that inverse relationships exist between abundances of desert pupfish and nonnative species, are consistent with the hypothesis that predation by nonnative species is contributing to decline of desert pupfish. We suspect that competitive interactions with nonnative fishes might also adversely affect abundance of desert pupfish.
Additional publication details
Trophic relationships of small nonnative fishes in a natural creek and several agricultural drains flowing into the Salton Sea, and their potential, effects on the endangered desert pupfish