Competitive interactions between walleye (Sander vitreus) and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) under various controlled conditions

Melissa R. Wuellner, Brian D.S. Graeb, David W. Willis, Bethany J. Galster, Trevor M. Selch, Steven R. Chipps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The range of smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) is expanding northward, creating new interactions with native predators, including walleye (Sander vitreus). We used a series of experiments to investigate competition between walleye (WAE) and smallmouth bass (SMB) at different life stages and light conditions, identified behaviors that allowed one fish to outcompete another, and evaluated whether prey switching mitigated competitive interactions. Juvenile and adult SMB appeared to outcompete WAE when fed during the daytime; neither species dominated when fed near dusk. Attack rates and capture efficiencies of both species were similar with an intra- or interspecific competitor, but SMB often exploited prey before the competitor had a chance to feed (exploitative competition) or displayed agonistic behaviors toward a potential competitor (interference competition). Prey selectivity of WAE or SMB did not differ when by themselves or with a potential competitor. These results indicate that SMB could outcompete WAE under limiting prey conditions due to the aggressive nature of SMB, but resources may be partitioned at least along a temporal scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-314
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Freshwater Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Competition
  • Exploitative competition
  • Feeding behavior
  • Interference competition
  • Prey switching
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Walleye

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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