In an 8-month mesocosm experiment, we examined how a simulated Everglades aquatic community of small native fishes, snails, and shrimp changed with the addition of either a native predator (dollar sunfish Lepomis marginatus) or a non-native predator (African jewelfish Hemichromis letourneuxi) compared to a no-predator control. Two snail species (Planorbella duryi, Physella cubensis) and the shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus) displayed the strongest predator-treatment effects, with significantly lower biomasses in tanks with Hemichromis. One small native fish (Heterandria formosa) was significantly less abundant in Hemichromis tanks, but there were no significant treatment effects for Gambusia holbrooki, Jordanella floridae, or Pomacea paludosa (applesnail). Overall, there were few treatment differences between native predator and no-predator control tanks. The results suggest that the potential of Hemichromis to affect basal food-web species that link primary producers with higher-level consumers in the aquatic food web, with unknown consequences for Florida waters.
Additional publication details
Effects of a non-native cichlid fish (African jewelfish, Hemichromis letourneuxi Sauvage 1880) on a simulated Everglades aquatic community