Direct and indirect effects of channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) on native crayfishes (Cambaridae) in experimental tanks
For The incised, sand-bed streams of northcentral Mississippi, USA, fish predation is one plausible mechanism to explain both relatively low crayfish densities and differences in stream size occupied by various native crayfishes. I conducted two mesocosm experiments to test effects of a fish predator (channel catfish, Ictalurus punctahls) on the survival and size structure of native crayfishes (primarily Pmcambams hayi and Orconectes chickasawae) in the presence and absence of shelter. I used predominantly the larger species, P. hayi, in the first experiment and the smaller species, 0. chickasawae, in the second. Experiments lasted 19-21 d, and each consisted of four replicated treatments: crayfish without shelter, rayfish with shelter, crayfish and predator without shelter, crayfish and predator with shelter. In both experiments, catfish significantly reduced crayfish SUMV. Shelter significantly reduced catfish predation on the smaller, but not the larger, crayfish species. Comparisons between experiments showed that in tanks containing catfish, P. hayi had higher survival than 0. chickasawae. In both experiments, the mean size of crayfish increased less in the presence than in the absence of catfish, and I argue that the effect is due largely to a reduction in crayfish growth. Channel catfish directly and indirectly influenced crayfish in experimental settings, with the degree of influence varying by crayfish species and presumably related to crayfish size. Thus, fish predation and shelter availability are likely important factors influencing densities of and macrohabitat use by these native crayfishes.