Young-of-year Gila chub (Gila intermedia) were abundant in upstream reaches of Sabino Creek, Arizona, devoid of green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), but were absent in downstream areas occupied by green sunfish. We examined potential reasons for this pattern by studying piscivory and habitat use of small green sunfish (<75 mm TL), the dominant size-class in Sabino Creek. In one piscivory experiment, we greatly reduced numbers of green sunfish prior to spawning by Gila chub, but there was no recruitment of young-of-year Gila chub. In a second experiment, three sizes-classes of green sunfish (45-55 mm TL, 62-65 mm TL, and 76-84 mm TL) readily consumed two size-classes of young-of-year Gila chub (15-20 mm TL and 21-25 mm TL) in instream enclosures. Green sunfish predation rates were strongly size-dependent, with larger size-classes consuming notably more young-of-year Gila chub than smaller size-classes. Shallow habitats may provide refugia for young-of-year Gila chub in the presence of large (>150 mm TL) green sunfish. However, even small green sunfish were highly predacious on young-of-year Gila chub, and our habitat study demonstrated that both taxa occupied similar mesohabitats. Co-occurrence of Gila chub and green sunfish in Sabino Creek seems to be the result of periodic downstream movement of adult Gila chub from reaches devoid of green sunfish. Young life stages of Gila chub apparently do not persist in sections of Sabino Creek occupied by green sunfish.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics