Effect of the human utilization of northern snakehead (Channa argus Cantor, 1842) on the settlement of exotic fish and cladoceran community structure.
Empirical studies suggest that changes in the density of top predators, such as carnivorous fish, in freshwater food webs, strongly affect not only fish communities but also various primary and secondary consumers. Based on these findings, we explored how differences in the utilization of carnivorous fish (i.e., Northern Snakehead, Channa argus) by humans affected the fish and cladoceran community structure as well as the settlement of exotic fish species (i.e., Lepomis macrochirus and Micropterus salmoides) in 30 wetlands located in the upper and lower reaches of the Nakdong River. Our results show that in the mid-lower reaches of the Nakdong River, the density of C. argus was low, while high densities of L. macrochirus and M. salmoides were observed. Exotic fish species are frequently consumed by C. argus, leading to a low density of L. macrochirus and M. salmoides in the upper reaches, which supported a high density of C. argus. However, in the mid-lower reaches, the density of L. macrochirus was high because of the frequent collection of C. argus by fishing activities. The dominance of L. macrochirus significantly changed the structure of cladoceran communities. L. macrochirus mainly feeds on pelagic species, increasing the density of epiphytic species in the mid-lower reaches. The continued utilization of C. argus by humans induced a stable settlement of exotic fish species and strongly affected the community structures of primary consumers in the 30 wetlands. The frequency of C. argus collection has to be reduced to secure biodiversity in the mid-lower reaches of the Nakdong River, which will reduce the proportion of exotic fish species and increase the conservation of native fish.