Effects of trout on galaxiid growth and antipredator behaviour
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The introduction of trout has been implicated in the declines in native fish fauna in New Zealand and worldwide. Since the introduction of brown (Salmo trutta) and rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss) trout to New Zealand in 1867, their distribution has spread and they have been implicated in the fragmentation of native fish distributions, particularly native non-migratory galaxiids. However, in the Upper Waimakariri basin the co-occurrence of trout and galaxiid populations is relatively common, even in streams where trout reach sizes known to be piscivorous. To investigate mechanisms that may regulate trout and galaxiid co-occurrence, I investigated differences in antipredator behaviour and growth rate between stream types with varying levels of trout presence. Using quantitative survey data collected between 1997 and 2006, I found that trout abundance was low and varied annually in frequently disturbed sites compared their high abundance in stable streams. This finding was used to classify streams into three population types, barrier (trout absent), disturbed (trout presence intermittent) and sympatric (constant trout presence). Using this classification, I tested the effects of trout chemical cues on galaxiid activity and refuge use in artificial channels. There were no differences in activity or refuge use between trout odour and there were no effects of population type or galaxiid size during both the day and the night. Using otolith weight-fish length relationships in galaxiids collected from each population type, I found that galaxiid growth rate was higher in disturbed streams than in stable streams either with or without trout. An experiment manipulating trout size and presence, over two months in a natural stream, found galaxiids from treatments without trout grew slower than those with trout. Slow growth rates in galaxiids above trout-migration barriers and in sympatry, combined with low growth rates in treatments without trout suggest that the mechanisms that regulate galaxiid growth are more complex than previously thought.