Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 79–89 | Cite as

Altered energy flow pathways in a lake ecosystem following manipulation of fish community structure

  • Jari SyvärantaEmail author
  • Pia Högmander
  • Tapio Keskinen
  • Juha Karjalainen
  • Roger I. Jones
Research Article


We used carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses to assess the relative contributions from pelagic and littoral energy sources to higher trophic levels in a lake ecosystem before and after a major food web perturbation. The food web structure of the lake was altered when the population sizes of the most abundant fish species (small perch, roach and bream) were reduced during an attempt to improve water quality by biomanipulation. Fish removal was followed by dense year classes of young fish, which subsequently increased the utilisation of pelagic resources. This was reflected as a decrease in relative energy contribution from littoral sources and also led to more distinct pelagic and littoral food chains after fish removal. Community metrics calculated from stable isotope data indicated increased trophic diversity and occupied niche area, and reduced trophic redundancy in the food web. However, only minor changes were observed in fish trophic positions, although roach and pike occupied slightly lower trophic positions after fish removal. Despite the Jyväsjärvi ecosystem becoming more dependent on pelagic energy after fish removals, the littoral energy contribution was still substantial, particularly to certain fish species. Hence, our results support recent arguments for the importance of benthic production in lake ecosystems. More generally, our results illustrate how large-scale perturbations of food web structure can alter energy flow patterns through an entire ecosystem.


Fish removal Food web Littoral Pelagic Stable isotopes Trophic cascades 



Pekka Majuri, Antti Eloranta, Sami Vesala, Sari Oksanen, Katie Aoki and Joanne Kitchen gave valuable assistance in the field and laboratory. Tuula Sinisalo, Virve Kustula and Tony Pirkola helped with operating the SIA instrument in Jyväskylä. All personnel working in the Jyväsjärvi Project and biomanipulation fishing are thanked for their help. Two anonymous reviewers provided useful comments on an earlier version of this paper. This work was funded by the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation (research projects 2004074, 2005020, 2006026 to RIJ and 2007051 to JS) and by grants from the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Kone Foundation to JS.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jari Syväranta
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Pia Högmander
    • 1
  • Tapio Keskinen
    • 1
  • Juha Karjalainen
    • 1
  • Roger I. Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental ScienceUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Ecology of FishesLeibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany

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