Piscivore enhancement effects on food webs depend on planktivore body size and species composition in replicated whole lake experiments

Corey S. DeBoom, David H. Wahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent syntheses of trophic cascade and biomanipulation research have suggested that the effects of piscivores on planktivorous fish populations are reduced, when planktivores are capable of outgrowing predator gape limitation and in systems with complex food web interactions. These hypotheses, however, have not been tested in long-term, whole-lake, experiments where processes such as fish recruitment and compensatory food web responses may be important. We conducted a replicated whole-lake experiment to test for the effects of supplemental piscivore introductions on food webs of eutrophic lakes dominated by deep-bodied planktivores. Responses to piscivore enhancement were compared between lakes differing in food web structure due to the presence of omnivorous gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum). A significant decrease in the relative abundance of juvenile planktivorous fish, and an increase in total benthic macroinvertebrate density was observed in lakes containing mainly bluegills (Lepomus machrochirus). In contrast, lakes containing gizzard shad exhibited no significant responses to piscivore manipulation. Our results support the hypothesis that food webs in lakes dominated by deep-bodied planktivorous fish species respond weakly to piscivore enhancement. In addition, our findings support the hypothesis that cascading trophic interactions are weaker in lake ecosystems with more complex food web interactions such as those containing gizzard shad.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-49
Number of pages19
JournalHydrobiologia
Volume736
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Biomanipulation
  • Gizzard shad
  • Piscivore enhancement
  • Trophic cascade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

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