The zooplankton predator, Leptodora kindtii, declined in abundance at an offshore reference station in Lake Michigan in the mid-1980s following the invasion of another zooplankton predator, Bythotrephes cederstroemi. Both predators feed largely on daphnid prey and it was observed that densities of three Daphnia species declined in abundance at the reference station following the Bythotrephes invasion. Circumstantial evidence would suggest that the native predator, Leptodora, was competitively suppressed by Bythotrephes. However, results of laboratory experiments presented here show that Bythotrephes will readily attack and eat Leptodora when the predators are maintained under concentrated densities, even if alternative prey are available for the Bythotrephes. There was no evidence in these experiments that Leptodora attacked or ate Bythotrephes. These results imply that predation by Bythotrephes on Leptodora may alternatively account for the collapse of Leptodora in offshore Lake Michigan. In this note I discuss evidence in support of competition and predation as alternative hypotheses to explain the pattern of species replacement, Bythotrephes for Leptodora, observed in Lake Michigan. The existing data are not definitive and tempt further inquiry.
- Lake Michigan
- invading species