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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Afrique du Sud → 2020 → Understanding biotic interactions in invaded pond communities in the Sundays River irrigation network, South Africa

Rhodes University (2020)

Understanding biotic interactions in invaded pond communities in the Sundays River irrigation network, South Africa

Mofu, Lubabalo

Titre : Understanding biotic interactions in invaded pond communities in the Sundays River irrigation network, South Africa

Auteur : Mofu, Lubabalo

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University,

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2020

Résumé
The Sundays River valley irrigation ponds provide a unique opportunity to investigate biotic interactions within a biological invasions context, as they contain both native and non-native fish species. This study focusses on two native species (Glossogobius callidus and Gilchristella aestuaria) and two non-native species (Oreochromis mossambicus and Gambusia affinis). The ecology of the ponds was driven by physico-chemical variables, mainly temperature, but the interactions between fishes were a complex interplay between temperature, pond community ecology and food web structure. Seasonal changes in temperature and subsequent fluctuations in water levels resulted in changes in zooplankton community. Chlorophyll-a, temperature, G. callidus and G. affinis were the drivers of the seasonal changes in macroinvertebrate composition. Stable isotope analysis identified substantial ontogenetic dietary shifts in all species, corresponding to changes in body size. Stable isotope analysis revealed that the niche space occupied by G. affinis was broad and overlapped with that of the other three focal species. Stable isotope metrics showed that G. affinis and O. mossambicus utilised a wide range of resources compared to G. callidus and G. aestuaria. Stomach content analysis showed that G. callidus, O. mossambicus and G. affinis fed predominantly on benthic resources, while G. aestuaria fed mainly plankton resources. Functional response experiments revealed that G. callidus and G. affinis both displayed Type II functional responses. In single fish trials, G. affinis had significantly higher functional responses than G. callidus. In heterospecific G. callidus-G. affinis combinations the functional response of G. callidus was reduced by the presence of G. affinis, whereas, this combination greatly enhanced G. affinis functional response magnitudes. The functional response of G. callidus, O. mossambicus and G. affinis under two temperature treatments along with fish abundance data was used to determine temporal differences in the ecological impacts of each fish species between seasons. The relative impact potential of O. mossambicus was consistently higher than that of G. callidus and G. affinis. This study demonstrates how seasonal temperature fluctuations affect the relative impact capacities of introduced species. Overall, this thesis showed that high temperature along with life-history traits contributes to the biotic interactions between native and non-native species in novel environments.

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