In the Hawaiian Islands, intentionally introduced exotic fishes have been linked to changes in native biodiversity and community composition. In 1905, the mosquito fish Gambusia affinis was introduced to control mosquitoes. Subsequently, G. affinis spread throughout the Islands and into coastal anchialine ponds. Previous studies suggest that presence of invasive fishes in anchialine ponds may eliminate native species, including the endemic shrimp Halocaridina rubra. We examined effects of G. affinis on H. rubra populations in anchialine ponds on the Kona-Kohala coast of the island of Hawai‘i. In the presence of G. affinis, H. rubra exhibited a diel activity pattern that was not seen in fishless ponds. Shrimp in ponds with fish were active only at night. This pattern was evident in anchialine ponds and in laboratory experiments. In laboratory predation experiments, G. affinis preferentially consumed smaller H. rubra, and in the field the H. rubra collected from invaded sites were larger than those from fishless ponds. Analysis of trophic position using stable isotope analyses showed that feeding of H. rubra was not significantly distinct from that of snails, assumed to feed at trophic level 2.0 on epilithic algae, but G. affinis was slightly omnivorous, feeding at tropic level 2.2. The mosquito fish diet was apparently composed primarily of algae when the defensive behavior of H. rubra made them substantially unavailable as prey. The effect of successful establishment of G. affinis on shrimp behavior has the potential to alter abundance of benthic algae and processing and recycling of nutrients in anchialine pond ecosystems.
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Vol. 63 • No. 1