, Volume 817, Issue 1, pp 475–489 | Cite as

Food web changes associated with drought and invasive species in a tropical semiarid reservoir

  • Luis Artur Valões BezerraEmail author
  • Ronaldo Angelini
  • Jean Ricardo Simões Vitule
  • Marta Coll
  • Jorge Iván Sánchez-Botero


Fish and invertebrates are introduced in freshwaters around the world for commercial purposes, despite widely known impacts on food webs and biological invasions. As a proxy for artificial environments, we modeled a typical reservoir in a Brazilian semiarid region using an ecosystem approach. We compared the role of native and non-native invasive species (NIS) in the food web, between dry and wet periods, and under the influence of an extreme drought period (from 2011 to 2015), simulating the variation in fish biomasses due to decreasing consumption. Key ecosystem groups were fishes (mainly NIS), birds, and insects. Nutrient cycling was dependent on invaders, while the trophic structure was detritus based during the drought. Biomass of detritivores was almost two times higher than herbivores, and native fish species decreased abruptly in response to invaders and volume variation. The dominance of low-trophic levels (TLII) and tilapia—Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758) and other tilapiines—resulted from interactions among invaders, feeding behavior on benthos, and environmental seasonality, tending toward biotic homogenization (“benthification”) at the ecosystem level. An increasing relevance of detritivores with cascading effects in ecosystems subject to drought, multiple introductions, and ubiquitous food sources has clear implications for the fisheries and the water quality.


Non-native ichthyofauna Brazilian semiarid Ecosystem approach Ecopath with Ecosim Cichla spp. Dryland fish 



We are thankful to the Fundação Cearense de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (FUNCAP, AE1-0052-00044.01.00/11 SPU nº: 11295057-4) for the funding to this project. Coordenadoria de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for granting the first author with scholarships and funding M. Coll (PVE A063-2013), and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for the funding to JRS Vitule (310850/2012-6 and 303776/2015-3). Thanks also to Sr. Walt Disney Paulino, to Sr. Deílton Holanda and to other technicians from the Companhia de Gestão do Recursos Hídricos (COGERH, Ceará, Brazil), as well as the staff of the Laboratório de Ecologia Aquática (LEA), from the Universidade Federal do Ceará, for sampling support and post processing, and the ornithologists Caio Brito, Lucas Barros e Bruno Martins for the identification of birds.

Supplementary material

10750_2017_3432_MOESM1_ESM.docx (115 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 115 kb)


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação, Laboratório de Análise e Síntese em Biodiversidade (LASB)Universidade Federal do ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Engenharia CivilUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do NorteNatalBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação (LEC)Universidade Federal do ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  4. 4.Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC), Ecopath International Initiative Research AssociationBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Laboratório de Ecologia Aquática (LEA)¸ Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Federal do CearáFortalezaBrazil

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