Native fishes reared in hatcheries typically suffer high predation mortality when stocked into natural environments. We evaluated the behavior of juvenile bonytail Gila elegans, roundtail chub Gila robusta, razorback sucker Xyrauchen texanus, and Sonora sucker Catostomus insignis in response to introduced channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus and flathead catfish Pylodictis olivaris. Our laboratory tests indicate these species did not inherently recognize catfish as a threat, but they can quickly (within 12 h) change their behavior in response to a novel predator paired with the sight and scent of a dead conspecific. Chubs appear to avoid predation by swimming away from the threat, whereas suckers reduced movement. Effects of antipredator conditioning on survival of fish reared in hatcheries is unknown; however, our results suggest some native fish can be conditioned to recognize introduced predators, which could increase poststocking survival.
Additional publication details
Behaviors of southwestern native fishes in response to introduced catfish predators