Trout affect the density, activity and feeding of a larval plethodontid salamander


1. Ecologists have struggled to describe general patterns in the impacts of predators on stream prey, particularly at large, realistic spatial and temporal scales. Among the confounding variables in many systems is the presence of multiple predators whose interactions can be complex and unpredictable. 2. We studied the interactions between brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and larval two-lined salamanders (Eurycea bislineata), two dominant vertebrate predators in New England stream systems, by examining patterns of two-lined salamander abundance in stream reaches above and below waterfalls that are barriers to fish dispersal, by measuring the effects of trout on salamander density and activity using a large-scale manipulation of brook trout presence, and by conducting a small-scale laboratory experiment to study how brook trout and larval two-lined salamanders affect each other's prey consumption. 3. We captured more salamanders above waterfalls, in the absence of trout, than below waterfalls where trout were present. Salamander density and daytime activity decreased following trout addition to streams, and salamander activity shifted from aperiodic to more nocturnal with fish. Analysis of stomach contents from our laboratory experiment revealed that salamanders eat fewer prey with trout, but trout eat more prey in the presence of salamanders. 4. We suggest that as predators in streams, salamanders can influence invertebrate prey communities both directly and through density- and trait-mediated interactions with other predators.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Freshwater Biology



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Scientific Contribution Number


Document Type



© 2007 The Authors, Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd