The Bluegill Sunfish (Lepomis Macrochirus) Affects Successful Insect Colonization Through Predation and Competition
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The effects of the bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) on insect colonization trends were investigated regarding insect abundance and genus richness in artificial ponds. Four treatments were established in plastic cattle tanks equipped with a freefloating mesh cage: (1) Additional nutrients, no fish; (2) Normal nutrient level, no fish; (3) Normal nutrient level, one bluegill confined to a cage; (4) Normal nutrient level, one free-swimming bluegill. Tanks were open to colonization by insects. We found significant differences in insect community composition between ponds with and without bluegill for both experimental and natural ponds. Specifically, artificial and natural ponds with bluegill either free-swimming confined to a cage, had significantly reduced insect taxon richness and abundance. Therefore L. macrochirus structures the insect community through its role as both predator and competitor.