Introduced Freshwater Blenny Influences the Diet and Body Condition of the Invasive Dice Snake in Lake Geneva

Dubey, Sylvain and Christe, Philippe and Formenti, Vanessa and Stuab, Emilie and Schuerch, Johan and Glaizot, Olivier and Ursenbacher, Sylvain. (2015) Introduced Freshwater Blenny Influences the Diet and Body Condition of the Invasive Dice Snake in Lake Geneva. The journal of wildlife management, Vol. 79, Nr. 2 , S. 338–343.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6329143

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Non-indigenous species can have strong impacts on biodiversity by affecting trophic relationships in their new environments. The piscivorous dice snake (Natrix tessellata) has been introduced to Geneva Lake, western Switzerland, where the endangered viperine snake (Natrix maura) is native. Local, dramatic declines in the viperine snake population might be associated with the appearance of the dice snake through dietary overlap between these 2 species, which mainly feed on bullhead (Cottus gobio). In response to this decline, a control program for dice snake was implemented in 2007 to reduce numbers of this introduced snake. In 2010, a new species of fish, the freshwater blenny (Salaria fluviatilis), which shares the same habitat as the bullhead, was introduced into Lake Geneva and has since reached high densities. We determined the impact of freshwater blenny on diet composition and body condition of dice snakes. In addition, we tested for effects of the control program on the body condition of dice snakes and viperine snakes. We collected 294 dice snakes between 2007 and 2013. Based on morphology and a genetic marker (cytochrome b gene), we determined the fish species contained in these snakes’ stomachs. We found a drastic switch in dice snake diet following the arrival of freshwater blenny, as consumption of bullhead declined by 68% and was replaced by the blenny. In addition, the body condition of dice snakes increased significantly after the arrival of freshwater blenny. The body condition of both snake species was positively correlated with the number of dice snakes removed from the study area. This finding has important implications concerning the conservation of the endangered viperine snake, and suggests that the control program of dice snakes should be continued. Ó 2014 The Wildlife Society
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
UniBasel Contributors:Ursenbacher, Sylvain
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:06 Feb 2015 09:59
Deposited On:06 Feb 2015 09:59

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