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Competition for Space Between the Three-Spined Stickleback, Gasterosteus Aculeatus L.f. Leiura and the Nine-Spined Stickleback, Pungitius Pungitius (L.)

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1. The three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus L.f. leiura, and the nine-spined stickleback, Pungitius pungitius (L.), which are very similar in morphology, diet and behaviour, prefer different nesting habitats in brooks and pools. When both species occur sympatrically in high densities, breeding also takes place in transitional zones intermediate between the two specific habitats. Competition between these two species was investigated in these transitional zones. 2. Laboratory experiments revealed that the reproductive success of G. aculeatus is not influenced by the presence or absence of P. pungitius, but that the reproductive success of P. pungitius decreases when both species coexist. In this regard, coexistence of G. aculeatus and P. bungitius is a case of amensalism. When P. pungitius is able to mark out territories before G. aculeatus arrives, the status of P. pungitius is less subordinate but never equals the status of G. aculeatus.

Affiliations: 1: University of Antwerp, Department of Biology (Zoology) Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium; 2: University of Antwerp, Department of Biology (Zoology) Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium/


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