Megalobrama amblycephala grazes preferentially on Hydrilla verticillata but makes more efficient use of Vallisneria denseserrulata: implications for biological control of submerged macrophytes
Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems
Growth of the meadow-forming macrophyte Vallisneria denseserrulata is often negatively impacted as result of shading by the canopy-forming Hydrilla verticillata. Grazing by the herbivorous cyprinid Megalobrama amblycephala is thought to control H. verticillata. We hypothesized that M. amblycephala would prefer H. verticillata over V. denseserrulata, and that where the latter is grazed, its growth will not be wholly compromised, due in part to the efficiency with which it is metabolized by the
... etabolized by the grazer. In a pond experiment, macrophytes were planted with monocultures of H. verticillata and V. denseserrulata, and in mixed cultures of the two species, with and without grazing by M. amblycephala. The results showed that in the absence of fish, the growth rate of V. denseserrulata was significantly reduced in the presence of H. verticillata. In the mixture, M. amblycephala had a significant negative effect on the growth of H. verticillata but not on V. denseserrulata. Grazing was associated with reductions in plant height, plant fresh weight and leaf fresh weight but the leaf number, maximum root length, maximum blade width, root weight and stem weight in V. denseserrulata increased. The food utilization ratio of M. amblycephala was significantly higher when grazing solely on V. denseserrulata than when grazing on H. verticillata or the mixture. Our results imply that V. denseserrulata is protected from overgrazing by the ability of M. amblycephala to make more effective metabolic use of ingested material than for H. verticillata. Furthermore, M. amblycephala is beneficial to V. denseserrulata in reducing competition from H. verticillata.