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Oecologia

, Volume 151, Issue 1, pp 69–81 | Cite as

Effects of the herbivorous minnow, southern redbelly dace (Phoxinus erythrogaster), on stream productivity and ecosystem structure

  • Katie N. BertrandEmail author
  • Keith B. Gido
Ecosystem Ecology

Abstract

We used field and mesocosm experiments to measure effects of southern redbelly dace (Phoxinus erythrogaster), a grazing minnow, on stream ecosystem structure and function. Ecosystem structure was quantified as algal filament length, algal biomass, size distribution of particulate organic matter (POM), algal assemblage structure, and invertebrate assemblage structure, whereas ecosystem function was based on gross and net primary productivity. Our experiments showed that moderate densities of Phoxinus temporarily reduced mean algal filament length and mean size of POM relative to fishless controls. However, there was no detectable effect on algal biomass or ecosystem primary productivity. Several factors could explain the lack of effect of Phoxinus on primary productivity including increased algal production efficiency in grazed treatments or increased grazing by other organisms in fishless treatments. The inability of Phoxinus to reduce algal biomass and system productivity contrasts with experimental results based on other grazing minnows, such as the central stoneroller (Campostoma anomalum), and questions the generality of grazer effects in stream ecosystems. However, environmental venue and the spatial and temporal scale of ecosystem measurements can greatly influence the outcome of these experiments.

Keywords

Grazers Prairie streams Stream metabolism 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Angie Lickteig, Nate Franssen, and Mike Peterson assisted in the field and laboratory on all three of the experiments. Jeff Falke, Layne Knight, and Nate Franssen helped maintain experimental streams and conduct experiments. This manuscript was greatly improved by the comments and suggestions of Walter Dodds, Nate Franssen, Joel Trexler, and two anonymous reviewers. Jackie Howe assisted with the summer 2003 experiment and data entry. Funding was provided by Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research Program, Kansas Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, and the National Science Foundation, (DEB-0416126).

Supplementary material

442_2006_569_MOESM1_ESM.doc (56 kb)
Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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