One year monitoring of ecological interaction of Silurus glanis in a novel invaded oligotrophic deep lake (Lake Maggiore).
The European catfish (Silurus glanis) was introduced in Italy during the last century for aquaculture purposes, and now it is well-established. S. glanis is an invasive species and a top predator that can deplete prey supply in the surrounding habitat, leading to changes in the aquatic food web. Consequently, its presence is considered a threat to native fish populations. Its presence in the Lake Maggiore (Northern Italy) is recent and there is a lack of knowledge about its ability to completely exploit this new ecosystem throughout the year. This study corroborated the ability of European catfish to exploit both pelagic and littoral habitats, promoting trophic interactions in both habitats. Over 2019, multiple sampling approaches have been applied by collecting S. glanis and analysing its stomach contents with the aim of inferring interactions with the freshwater community. Its diet was mainly based on crayfish (Orconectes limosus), followed by six prey fish and the genus Corbicula; two fish species (Padogobius bonelli and Salaria fluviatilis) were added to the list of known prey fish. Notably and alarmingly for the early potential top-down pressure towards all trophic levels, young individuals were proved to also feed on fish and crayfish. S. glanis showed the ability to hunt at deep depths (>60 m) and a high growth rate, despite Lake Maggiore being oligotrophic.