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


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.


Bythotrephes Conochilus Harp Lake Rotifers Competition Predation Zooplankton Indirect effects 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



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.


  1. Allan JD (1973) Competition and the relative abundances of two cladocerans. Ecology 54:484–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armengol X, Boronat L, Camacho A, Wurtsbaugh WA (2001) Grazing by a dominant rotifer Conochilus unicornis Rousselet in a mountain lake: in situ measurements with synthetic microspheres. Hydrobiologia 446/447:107–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arndt H (1993) Rotifers as predators on components of the microbial web (bacteria heterotrophic flagellates, ciliates)—a review. Hydrobiologia 255/256:231–246Google Scholar
  4. Barbiero RP, Tuchman ML (2004) Changes in the crustacean communities of Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie following the invasion of the predatory cladoceran Bythotrephes longimanus. Can J Fisheries Aquat Sci 61:2111–2125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boudreau SA, Yan ND (2003) The differing crustacean zooplankton communities of Canadian Shield lakes with and without the nonindigenous zooplanktivore Bythotrephes longimanus. Can J Fisheries Aquat Sci 60:1307–1313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Branstrator DK (1995) Ecological interactions between Bythotrephes cederstroemi and Leptodora kindtii and the implications for species replacement in Lake Michigan. J Great Lakes Res 21:670–679Google Scholar
  7. Branstrator DK, Lehman JT (1991) Invertebrate predation in Lake Michigan: regulation of Bosmina longirostris by Leptodora kindtii. Limnol Oceanogr 36:483–495Google Scholar
  8. Brett MT, Goldman CR (1994) Differential effects of zooplankton species on ciliate community structure. Limnol Oceanogr 39:486–492Google Scholar
  9. Dieguez M, Balseiro E (1998) Colony size in Conochilus hippocrepis: defensive adaptation to predator size. Hydrobiologia 387/388:421–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dillon PJ, Molot LA (2005) Long-term trends in catchment export and lake retention of dissolved organic carbon, dissolved organic nitrogen, total iron and total phosphorus: the Dorset, Ontario study, 1978–1998. J␣Geophys Res. doi: 10.1029/2004JG000003.Google Scholar
  11. Dumitru C, Sprules GW, Yan ND (2001) Impact of Bythotrephes longimanus on zooplankton assemblages of Harp L., Canada: an assessment based on predator consumption and prey production. Freshwater Biol 46:241–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Edmondson ST, Litt AH (1987) Conochilus in Lake Washington. Hydrobiologia 147:157–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Galkovskaya GA, Mityanina IF (2005) Structure distinctions of pelagic rotifer plankton in stratified lakes with different human impact. Hydrobiologia 546:387–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gilbert JJ (1988a) Suppression of rotifer populations by Daphnia: a review of the evidence, the mechanisms, and the effects on zooplankton community structure. Limnol Oceanogr 33:1286–1303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gilbert JJ (1988b) Susceptibilies of ten rotifer species to interference from Daphnia pulex. Ecology 69:1826–1838CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gilbert JJ (1989) The effect of Daphnia interference on a natural rotifer and ciliate community: short-term bottle experiments. Limnol Oceanogr 34:606–617Google Scholar
  17. Grover, JP (1995) Competition, herbivory, and enrichment: nutrient-based models for edible and inedible plants. Am Nat 145:746–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Guma’a SA (1978) The food and feeding habits of young perch. Perca fluviatilisin Windermere. Freshwater Biol 8:177–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hessen DO, Faafeng BA, Anderson T (1993) Competition or niche segregation between Holopedium and Daphnia empirical light on abiotic key parameters. Hydrobiologia 307:253–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hovius JT, Beisner BE, McCann KS (2006) Epilimnetic rotifer community responses to Bythotrephes longimanus invasion in Canadian Shield lakes. Limnol Oceanogr 51:1004–1012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lehman JT, Caceres CE (1993) Food-web responses to species invasion by a predatory invertebrate: Bythotrephes in Lake Michigan. Limnol Oceanogr 38:879–891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lichstein JW, Simons TR, Shriner SA, Franzreb KE (2002) Spatial autocorrelation and autoregressive models in ecology. Ecol Monogr 72:445–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lunte CC, Luecke C (1990) Trophic interactions of Leptodora in Lake Michigan. Limnol Oceanogr 35:1091–1100Google Scholar
  24. Murtaugh P (2002) On rejection rates of paired intervention analysis. Ecology 83:1752–1761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Schulz KL, Yurista PM (1998) Implications of an invertebrate predator’s (Bythotrephes cederstroemi) atypical effects on a pelagic zooplankton community. Hydrobiologia 380:179–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sprules GS, Riessen HP, Jin EH (1990) Dynamics of the Bythotrephes invasions of the St. Lawrence Great Lakes. J Great Lakes Res 16:346–351Google Scholar
  27. Stewart-Oaten A, Murdoch WW, Parker KR (1986) Environmental impact assessment: “pseudoreplication” in time? Ecology 67:929–940CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stirling DG, McQueen DJ, Johannes MRS (1990) Vertical migration in Daphnia galeata mendotae (Brooks): demographic responses to changes in planktivore abundance. Can J Fisheries Aquat Sci 47:395–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Therriault TW, Grigorocich IA, Cristescu ME, Ketelaars HAM, Viljanen M, Heath DD, MacIsaac HJ (2002) Taxonomic resolution of the genus Bythotrephes Leydig using molecular markers and re-evaluation of its global distribution. Diversity Distribution 8: 67–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Vanderploeg HA, Liebig JR, Omair M (1993) Bythotrephes predation on Great Lakes’ zooplankton measured by an in situ method: implications for zooplankton community structure. Archiv fur Hydrobiologie 127:1–8Google Scholar
  31. Walz N (1995) Rotifer populations in plankton communities: Energetics and life history strategies. Experientia 51:437–453Google Scholar
  32. Williamson CE (1983) Invertebrate predation on planktonic rotifers. Hydrobiologia 104:385–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yan ND, Geiling W (1985) Elevated planktonic rotifer biomass in acidified metal-contaminated lakes near Sudbury, Ontario. Hydrobiologia 120:199–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Yan ND, Pawson TW (1997) Changes in the crustacean zooplankton community of Harp L., Canada, following invasion by Bythotrephes cederstroemi. Freshwater Biol 37:409–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Yan ND, Girard R, Boudreau S (2002) An introduced invertebrate predator (Bythotrephes) reduces zooplankton species richness. Ecol Lett 5:481–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yan ND, Keller W, Somers KM, Pawson TW, Girard RE (1996) Recovery of crustacean zooplankton communities from acid and metal contamination: comparing manipulated and reference lakes. Can J Fisheries Aquat Sci 53:1301–1327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yan ND, Blukacz A, Sprules WG, Kindy PK, Hackett D, Girard RE, Clark BJ (2001) Changes in zooplankton and the phenology of the spiny water flea, Bythotrephes, following its invasion of Harp L., Ontario, Canada. Can J Fisheries Aquat Sci 58:2341–2350CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations