Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Estimates of food consumption rates for invasive Blue Catfish.

Abstract

As a prolific invasive species, Blue Catfish Ictalurus furcatus threaten native organisms in numerous estuarine and tidal freshwaters along the Atlantic coast of the United States. However, no published estimates of consumption rates are available for Blue Catfish in the scientific literature. This information is critical for development of bioenergetics models or estimation of population-level impacts on native species. Using a combination of field and laboratory studies, we provide the first estimates of daily ration, maximum daily ration, and consumption to biomass ratios for Blue Catfish populations. Ad libitum feeding trials conducted in our laboratory reveal that maximum daily ration in Blue Catfish varies by prey type, temperature, and fish size, with maximal feeding occurring in medium-sized Blue Catfish (500-600 mm total length) and at temperatures ≥15°C. Furthermore, estimates of daily ration were higher for fish prey (Gizzard Shad Dorosoma cepedianum) than for crustacean prey (blue crab Callinectes sapidus). Diel feeding chronologies based on field-collected diet samples from 1,226 Blue Catfish demonstrated river-specific variability in daily ration and maximum daily ration. Blue Catfish daily ration ranged between 2.27% and 5.22% bodyweight per 24 h, while maximum daily ration ranges between 8.56% and 9.37% bodyweight per 24 h. Estimates of consumption to biomass ratios varied by river and Blue Catfish size groupings but range between 2.42 and 3.39, which is similar to other benthic omnivores. This research will inform the assessment of predatory impacts of invasive Blue Catfish in the Chesapeake Bay and beyond as it will enable researchers to estimate predatory impacts through the coupling of population models, food habit information, and consumption rate information (current study).