We tested the hypothesis that large predatory fishes are major predators of amphibians and reptiles along littoral ecotones by examining the diets of 70 bowfin (Amia calva), 22 chain pickerel (Esox niger), 235 Florida gar (Lepisosteus platyrinchus), 258 largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), and 46 warmouth (Lepomis gulosus) collected from enhanced and non-enhanced portions of the channelized Kissimmee River, Florida, USA. Only six bowfin (9%) and four bass (2%) preyed upon herpetofauna. The diet of bowfin included peninsula newts (Notopthalmus viridescens piaropicola), greater sirens (Siren lacertina), and striped crayfish snakes (Regina alleni), whereas the diet of largemouth bass included peninsula newts, striped crayfish snakes, and stinkpot turtles (Kinosternum odoratus). No individual predator consumed more than one type of herpetofauna. The higher percentage of herpetofauna consumed by bowfin reflects this species' catholic feeding habits. Prey size was positively correlated with predator size. Eighty percent of fishes that preyed upon herpetofauna were collected from non-enhanced portions of the river, which may reflect lower abundance of preferred prey in these disturbed habitats. Overall, it does not appear that amphibians and reptiles are an important part of the piscine food web in the channelized Kissimmee River.
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Vol. 21 • No. 1