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Title: Selective Herbivory by an Invasive Cyprinid, the Rudd Scardinius erythrophthalmus

1. Herbivory by non-native animals is a problem of growing concern globally, especially for ecosystems where significant native herbivores did not previously exist or have been replaced by non-natives. The rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) is an omnivorous cyprinid that has a nearly global longitudinal distribution due to human translocations, yet it is unknown whether the rudd feeds selectively among aquatic macrophyte species common to North American waters. 2. We tested a null hypothesis of non-selective feeding by rudds using five species of aquatic macrophytes: Ceratophyllum demersum, Elodea canadensis, Najas flexilis, Stuckenia pectinata, and Vallisneria americana. Four rudds were placed in 15 different 890-L tanks and presented with known quantities of each macrophyte species (each tank serving as a block in a randomized complete block design). Each macrophyte bundle was weighed on six dates during a 13 d experiment. Differences in mean percent weight remaining among macrophyte species were tested using repeated measures analysis of variance. We also quantified differences among chemical attributes of the five macrophyte species and qualitatively determined if selective feeding by rudds was related to dry matter content (DMC), percent C by dry weight (%C), percent N by dry weight (%N), and the concentrations of total soluble proteins,more » two organic acids (aconitic and oxalic acid), total soluble phenolic compounds (<1,000 Da), nine soluble phenolic metabolites, and total phenolic compounds. 3. Selective feeding by rudds was evident, with the order of macrophyte removal (from highest to lowest) being: N. flexilis > E. canadensis > S. pectinata > V. americana > C. demersum. Selection was positively related to %C and atomic C:N, but not DMC, %N, or concentration of total soluble proteins, contrary to the expectation that rudds would select the most nutritious plants available. The concentration of aconitic acid was greatest in N. flexilis, a preferred macrophyte, contrary to the expectation that this compound provides resistance to herbivory. The concentration of oxalic acid, which negatively affects palatability, was highest in C. demersum, the least preferred macrophyte. Selection was also positively related to the concentration of total soluble phenolic compounds; however, examination of the influence of specific phenolic metabolites provided further insights. Concentrations of caffeic acid, trans-caftaric acid, and quercetin were positively related to macrophyte preference by rudds, whereas concentrations of cis-4-O- and trans-4-O-ferulic acid glucoside were negatively related. Patterns between the concentrations of p-coumaric acid, rosmarinic acid, and macrophyte preference by rudds were less obvious. 4. Our results suggest that selective feeding by rudds has the potential to alter macrophyte assemblages and jeopardize habitat restoration projects seeking to establish a diverse plant assemblage. Studies of selective herbivory by various aquatic taxa have provided evidence that selection is simultaneously influenced by multiple plant characteristics, including nutritional quality, morphology, rigidity, and chemical defenses. Future research designed to elucidate the mechanisms by which specific chemical attributes of macrophytes influence selective herbivory by rudds and other taxa will help provide an understanding of how herbivores have changed macrophyte assemblages and make predictions about how macrophyte assemblages will be altered following biological invasions.« less
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  1. SUNY-ESF, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  2. ORNL
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Freshwater Biology; Journal Volume: 59; Journal Issue: 1
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States