Ecological characterization of two species of exotic fish, pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus) and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in the international Minho river

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Ana Cristina Lages ; Carlos Antunes (2015)

The introduction of exotic species is considered the main cause for the decline of native species. The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus) are two native species from North America, introduced in Portugal to enhance sport fishing. However, their diet and great adaptability made them considered predatory and harmful. In order to understand the ecological impact of M. salmoides and L. gibbosus in the international section of the Minho River, three sampling sites were selected: two in Vila Nova de Cerveira and one in Lapela, at distance of the mouth of the river of 17 and 45 Km, respectively. The fish were gathered using fyke nets and trammel nets, electric fishing and fishing rod, with performed samplings since July 2014 until October 2015. For all fish caught the biometric data (weight, total and fork length, gonad and liver weight), sex, stomach contents analysis were registered as well as collection of otoliths and scales for age reading. Both species feed on small macroinvertebrates specially the juveniles while adults of largemouth bass and pumpkinseed sunfish prefer eat fish and gastropods, respectively. Because L. gibbosus is a recent introduction in the Minho river estuary its abundance increased a lot in the last two years and it was possible verify the increase of the fish population average length. With this work it is intended to evaluate the impact in the Minho River estuary of both exotic species studying the population structure, trophic webs and reproduction.
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