Linking terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems: The role of woody habitat in lake food webs

Brian M. Roth, Isaac C. Kaplan, Greg G. Sass, Pieter T. Johnson, Anna E. Marburg, Anthony C. Yannarell, Tanya D. Havlicek, Theodore V. Willis, Monica G. Turner, Stephen R. Carpenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trees that fall into lakes from riparian forest become habitat for aquatic organisms, and are potentially an important link between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Coarse woody habitat (CWH) promotes the production of benthic invertebrate prey and offers refuge for prey fishes, which are in turn consumed by piscivorous fishes. We used a simulation model to explore responses of an aquatic food web to changes in CWH caused by lakeshore residential development and windstorm, as well as to harvest of adult piscivores. Residential development had a negative effect on fishes, and could lead to extirpation of benthivorous prey fish species. In contrast, pulsed addition of CWH following a windstorm had little effect on the aquatic food web. Our results suggest that CWH is more important as shelter for prey fishes than as a substrate for benthic invertebrate production. However, piscivore harvest can supersede the role of CWH as prey shelter, leading to piscivore collapse and prey persistence even when CWH levels are low enough to promote piscivore dominance. Thus, the effects of lakeshore residential development on fishes can be masked by angler harvest of top piscivores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-452
Number of pages14
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 10 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Coarse woody habitat
  • Food web
  • Residential development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling


Dive into the research topics of 'Linking terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems: The role of woody habitat in lake food webs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this