Aquatic food web changes to invasive Flathead Catfish along a natural invasion gradient
Biological invasions have the potential to significantly alter the structure and function of aquatic communities. Invasive predatory fish species are known to restructure food webs – since predatory fishes have a dominant influence on community structure in freshwater systems. The Flathead Catfish Pylodictis olivaris is a large piscivorous catfish that is invasive in many parts of Pennsylvania, including the Susquehanna River Basin within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. First detected in 2002 in the Susquehanna River Basin, the species is currently spreading northward and into tributaries. Although ongoing research is attempting to understand various aspects of invasion dynamics and ecology, there is currently no information on how this species may be altering food web structure – which is critical for informing conservation and management decisions. This research proposes to study the aquatic food web changes to invasive Flathead Catfish along a natural invasion gradient in the Susquehanna River Basin, PA.