Original Article

Ecological Research

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 471-480

Effects of salmon carcasses on experimental stream ecosystems in Hokkaido, Japan

  • Seiji YanaiAffiliated withHokkaido Institute of Technology Email author 
  • , Kaori KochiAffiliated withGraduate School of Agriculture and Agricultural Life Sciences, University of Tokyo

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The effects of salmon carcasses on dissolved nutrients, epilithic production, leaf decomposition rates, and aquatic invertebrates were examined using 10-m-long artificial channels fed by an adjacent natural stream in Hokkaido, northern Japan. Bags containing maple leaf litter were placed in nine channels, each of which was assigned to one of three treatments with three replicates, for 6 weeks in fall 2002. The three treatments were: (1) salmon carcasses+invertebrates, (2) invertebrates only, and (3) control (no salmon carcasses or invertebrates added). Nutrient concentrations, biomass of epilithic algae (chlorophyll), leaf weight loss, abundance and biomass of invertebrates in the leaf packs were compared among the three treatments at 14, 27, and 40 days after the beginning of the experiment. The NH 4 + in stream water and chlorophyll concentrations of epilithic algae were higher in the salmon treatment than the other treatments, and the maple leaves decomposed faster in the salmon treatment than in the other treatments. Moreover, the N content of the leaves was highest and the C/N ratio was lowest in the salmon treatment, although not significantly so. The abundance and biomass of the dominant leaf-shredding invertebrate Goerodes satoi did not differ between the first two treatments. However, the stable N isotope ratio in G. satoi was nearly 3‰ higher in the salmon treatment, suggesting that around 20% of salmon-derived N was taken up by this shredder. Our results indicate that salmon carcasses affect stream ecosystems directly by enhancing primary production, indirectly by accelerating woody leaf decomposition, and finally by incorporating into the food web primary consumers that utilize fertilized woody leaves.


Artificial channel Goerodes satoi Salmon carcasses Stable isotopes Leaf bag