, Volume 487, Issue 1, pp 19-31

Experimental study of trophic cascade effect of silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrixon) in a subtropical lake, Lake Donghu: on plankton community and underlying mechanisms of changes of crustacean community

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An enclosure experiment was carried out to test trophic cascade effect of filter-feeding fish on the ecosystem: growth of crustacean zooplankton, and possible mechanism of changes of crustacean community structure. Four fish biomass levels were set as follows: 0, 116, 176 and 316 g m-2, and lake water (containing ca. 190 g m-2 of filter-feeding fishes) was comparatively monitored. Nutrient levels were high in all treatments during the experiment. Lowest algal biomass were measured in fishless treatment. Algal biomass decreased during days 21–56 as a function of fish biomass in treatments of low (LF), medium (MF) and high (HF) fish biomass. Crustaceans biomass decreased with increasing fish biomass. Small-bodied cladocerans, Moina micrura, Diaphanosoma brachyurum and Scapholeberis kingii survived when fish biomass was high whilst, large-bodied cladocerans Daphnia spp. and the cyclopoids Theromcyclops taihokuensis, T. brevifuratus, Mescyclops notius and Cyclops vicinus were abundant only in NF enclosures. Evasive calanoid Sinodiaptomus sarsi was significantly enhanced in LF, but decreased significantly with further increase of fish biomass. Demographic data indicated that M. micrura was well developed in all treatments. Our study indicates that algal biomass might be controlled by silver carp biomass in eutrophic environment. Changes of crustacean community are probably affected by the age of the first generation of species. Species with short generation time were dominant and species with long generation time survived less with high fish biomass. Evasive calanoids hardly developed in treatments with high fish biomass because of the (bottle neck) effect of nauplii. Species abundance were positively related to fish predation avoidance. Other than direct predation, zooplankton might also be suppressed by filter-feeding fish via competition.