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Exotic invaders gain foraging benefits by shoaling with native fish

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Abstract

Freshwater habitats are under increasing threat due to invasions of exotic fish. These invasions typically begin with the introduction of small numbers of individuals unfamiliar with the new habitat. One way in which the invaders might overcome this disadvantage is by associating with native taxa occupying a similar ecological niche. Here we used guppies (Poecilia reticulata) from a feral population in Mexico to test the prediction that exotic shoaling fish can associate with heterospecifics, and that they improve their foraging efficiency by doing so. Guppies have invaded the Mexican High Plateau and are implicated in the declines of many native topminnow (Goodeinae) species. We show that heterospecific associations between guppies and topminnows can deliver the same foraging benefits as conspecific shoals, and that variation in foraging gains is linked to differences in association tendency. These results uncover a mechanism enabling founding individuals to survive during the most vulnerable phase of an invasion and help explain why guppies have established viable populations in many parts of Mexico as well in every continent except Antarctica.
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Original languageEnglish
Article number140101
Number of pages9
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2014

    Research areas

  • Allee effects, Sociability , Goodeids , Interspecific interactions , Invasion success

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