, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 490–503 | Cite as

Invasive Predator, Bythotrephes, has Varied Effects on Ecosystem Function in Freshwater Lakes



Bythotrephes longimanus is an invertebrate predator that has invaded the North American Great Lakes and a number of inland lakes, where it preys on crustacean zooplankton. We examined the effect of Bythotrephes on two measures of ecosystem function during a four-month observational study of freshwater lakes on the boreal shield. Bythotrephes-invaded lakes had significantly lower epilimnetic zooplankton abundance and production compared to reference lakes. On average, Bythotrephes consumed 34% of zooplankton production when it was present in lakes. There was some evidence of changes in the timing of zooplankton production, as well as shifts to cooler, less productive habitats, which may lessen the overall effect of the invader on the transfer of energy to higher trophic levels. We experimentally demonstrated a weak trophic cascade where invader predation reduced zooplankton biomass, and subsequently increased phytoplankton growth. However, the response was small in magnitude and not biologically relevant at the whole lake-scale. The most conspicuous effect of Bythotrephes that we measured was a diversion of energy away from native predators at higher trophic levels.


invasive species ecosystem function crustacean zooplankton Bythotrephes freshwater lakes secondary production zooplankton grazing 



This project benefited from discussions with Ora Johannsson, Michael Arts, Beatrix Beisner, Norman Yan, Jon Hovius, Joelle Young, Sophie Foster, Gary Sprules, William Taylor, Lisa Nordin, and Robert Girard. We thank B. Beisner, O. Johannsson, J. Young, Michael Vanni, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. We are grateful to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for providing fish data. We would also like to thank J. Hovius, Emily Parrott, and Greg Puncher for assistance in the field, and E. Parrott for enumerating the Bythotrephes samples. Funding for this project was provided by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant to SEA and Post-Graduate Scholarship to ALS, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, and Queen’s University School of Graduate Studies and Research. Logistical support and water chemistry was provided by the Dorset Environmental Science Centre.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Ecology & Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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