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Biological Invasions

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 233–243 | Cite as

Indirect food web effects of Bythotrephes invasion: responses by the rotifer Conochilus in Harp Lake, Canada

  • Jonathan T. Hovius
  • Beatrix E. BeisnerEmail author
  • Kevin S. McCann
  • Norman D. Yan
Original paper

Abstract

As a recent invader of North American lakes, Bythotrephes longimanus has induced large changes in crustacean zooplankton communities through direct predation effects. Here we demonstrate that Bythotrephes can also have indirect food web effects, specifically on rotifer fauna. In historical time series data, the densities of the colonial rotifer Conochilus unicornis significantly increased after Bythotrephes invasion in Harp Lake, Ontario. No such changes were observed in a non-invaded reference lake, the nearby Red Chalk Lake. Evidence for two mechanisms explaining the Conochilus increase was examined based on changes to the crustacean zooplankton community over time. Rapid and severe declines in several herbivorous species of cladoceran zooplankton after Bythotrephes detection indicated a decrease in exploitative competition pressure on Conochilus. Secondly, a later and significant decline to virtual extinction of native invertebrate predators (Mesocyclops and Leptodora) could account for the observed Conochilus increase which also began 1–2 years after invasion by Bythotrephes. Ultimately, it appears that both reduced competition followed by a loss of native invertebrate predators were necessary to lead to the large Conochilus densities observed following invader establishment. From this analysis of long-term community data, it appears that Bythotrephes has important indirect, as well as direct, food web effects in newly invaded North American lakes with implications for trophic relationships.

Keywords

Bythotrephes Conochilus Harp Lake Rotifers Competition Predation Zooplankton Indirect effects 

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Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Dorset, Ontario, Canada, for providing samples collected between 1986 and 1998 to be counted for rotifer densities and for providing chemistry and zooplankton densities. Funding was provided by a Department of Fisheries and Oceans subvention grant to BEB and by NSERC grants to BEB, KSM and NDY.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan T. Hovius
    • 1
  • Beatrix E. Beisner
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kevin S. McCann
    • 1
  • Norman D. Yan
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Quebec at MontrealMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Dorset Environmental Sciences CentreOntario Ministry of the EnvironmentDorsetCanada

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