Ecology: The Fourspine Stickleback can be found in fresh and brackish water from 0 to 3 m deep. Adults inhabit weedy bays and backwaters (Delbeek and Williams, 1988).
Apeltes quadracus often live sympatrically with other species of stickleback throughout their native range, though they are generally solitary with regard to other members of their own species. Individuals are often observed perched among bottom debris and vegetation, never in open water, hovering over a patch of substrate, picking at it frequently, then moving on to another patch (Delbeek and Williams 1987). Delbeek and Williams (1987) also found that fourspine stickleback fed exclusively on the bottom, wither among benthic vegetation or from the substrate, the most abundant organisms in their diets being diatoms, nauplii, nematodes, ostracods, and cyclopods. During spawning, the males of this species establish territories and build small nests in which females lay their eggs (Courtenay 1985). Them male then chases the female away and cares for the eggs until they hatch. Courtenay (1985) also found that, unlike other stickleback species, male Apeltes tend multiple nests at one time in both laboratory and natural breeding site observations. Fourspine stickleback also has the widest range of salinity tolerance of any North American species of stickleback (Holm and Hamilton 1988).
Means of Introduction: Shipping, Ballast Water (USEPA 2008). Denoncourt et al. (1975) were uncertain if the Susquehanna populations of this species, and that of several other additions to the drainage, represented natural occurrences or were the result of accidental introductions.
Bait shops in Alabama were found to be selling stickleback mixed in with fathead minnows at the time the specimens were collected (N. Nichols, pers. comm.).
References: (click for full references)
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Courtenay, S.C. 1985. Simultaneous multinesting by the fourspine stickleback, Apeltes quadracus. Canadian Field-Naturalist 99(3): 360-363.
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Delbeek, J.C., and D.D. Williams. 1987. Food resource partitioning between sympatric populations of brackishwater sticklebacks. The Journal of Animal Ecology, 56(3): 949-967.
GLMRIS. 2012. Appendix C: Inventory of Available Controls for Aquatic Nuisance Species of Concern, Chicago Area Waterway System. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.