Spawning and brood defense of smallmouth bass under the process of invasion into a novel habitat

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Abstract

Synopsis

Smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu, known as one of the world's most disastrous invasive species, was introduced into Lake Aoki, central Japan in the last 10 years and is of concern for the conservation of the native biodiversity. We investigated spawning and brood defense under novel conditions to devise measures to eradicate a local population of this species. Compared to their native habitat, the size distribution of nesting males was less skewed to the right in this invasive population but rather a skewed normal distribution probably due to prevention of younger cohorts entering the nesting stock. The number of offspring deposited in nests was not positively related to the size of the nesting male. These observations imply that a shortage of suitable nest sites leads to an escalation in male–male competition, followed by a relaxation of female mate choice based on male size. Further, when presented with a model of a potential predator of the offspring, nesting males reacted individually and the intensity of site tenacity was independent of the male size. We propose that the removal of cover accompanied by the use of native predators of young bass can effectively decelerate the expansion of invasive smallmouth bass.

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