Many freshwater lakes have been invaded by non-native aquatic plants. Although managing the invasions is necessary to restore native macrophytes, little is known about the effects of invasive macrophyte eradication on fish foraging. This study was designed to determine whether fish feeding was affected by large-scale changes in plant composition after selective control of invasive Eurasian watermilfoil, Myriophyllum spicatum, and whether feeding was correlated with habitat complexity or abundance of invasive plants on a smaller scale. Popnets were used to collect plants, invertebrates and fishes in the littoral zone of four Minnesota lakes twice a year for 4 years. The degree of stomach fullness in fishes was not correlated with the proportion of invasive plants or habitat complexity. Bluegills, the most abundant fish species, exhibited high selectivity for Diptera and their preferences varied little in different plant habitats. Changes in niche width of bluegills were not consistent with invasive plant control. Overall, invasive macrophyte control with timely restoration of the native plant community did not affect the characteristics of fish feeding we investigated. This study also contributes to our understanding of fish-macroinvertebrate interactions as a function of habitat complexity.
- Feeding selectivity
- Fish-invertebrate interactions
- Structural complexity