, Volume 816, Issue 1, pp 243–254 | Cite as

Fish shift the feeding behaviour and trophic niche diversification of their prey in subarctic Lake Mývatn, Iceland

  • Mireia BartronsEmail author
  • Ignasi Arranz
  • Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles
  • Serena Sgarzi
  • Torben L. Lauridsen
  • Frank Landkildehus
  • Xavier D. Quintana
  • Sandra Brucet
  • Erik Jeppesen
Primary Research Paper


Fish can alter food web structure through trophic cascades. While most studies conducted in oligotrophic subarctic lakes show strong top–down control on consumers in the presence of fish, several studies undertaken in eutrophic subarctic Lake Mývatn, Iceland, suggest that it is consumer–resource interactions that drive the whole-lake community. Here, we used stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen from the main food web compartments derived from a 3-month in situ-controlled mesocosm experiment involving two treatments (with and without fish) with three replicates each to determine the effects of fish on the trophic structure of the Lake Mývatn food web. We found that the whole food web trophic structure shifted towards the upper part of the water column (more planktonic habitat) in fishless enclosures. Additionally, the trophic niche of organisms occupying the base of the food web became more diversified when fish were absent, and the trophic redundancy of all taxa decreased (more dissimilar trophic niches). Stronger top–down effects may also result from global warming, producing increased abundance of planktivorous fish in subarctic lakes. Our results indicate that this could lead to a shift in trophic niche and reduced trophic diversity of most food web organisms.


Subarctic lakes Trophic cascades Predation Food webs Stable isotopes Climate change 



We are grateful to Árni Einarsson from Mývatn Research Station (Iceland) for his advice, assistance and loan of facilities, to Elisabeth Badosa, Sergi Carrasco, Mariona Munné, Gisela Solà and Beatriz Tintoré for field and laboratory assistance, to Nicolas Vidal for help with the laboratory analyses of the stable isotopes and to the anonymous reviewers that helped to improve the manuscript. This project was supported by the Carlsberg Foundation (Project 2013_01_0535) and the MARS project (Managing Aquatic ecosystems and water Resources under multiple Stress) funded under the 7th EU Framework Programme, Theme 6 (Environment including Climate Change), Contract No.: 603378. EJ and TLL were further supported by AU Centre for Water Technology (WATEC). SB was supported by the Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship No. 330249 (CLIMBING) and by the project DFG, Me 1686/7-1. Xavier D. Quintana was supported by a Grant of the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competividad (CGL2016-76024-R).

Supplementary material

10750_2018_3588_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.5 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1532 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mireia Bartrons
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ignasi Arranz
    • 1
  • Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles
    • 1
    • 2
  • Serena Sgarzi
    • 1
  • Torben L. Lauridsen
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Frank Landkildehus
    • 3
  • Xavier D. Quintana
    • 7
  • Sandra Brucet
    • 1
    • 3
    • 8
  • Erik Jeppesen
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Aquatic Ecology GroupUniversity of Vic - Central University of CataloniaVicSpain
  2. 2.Freshwater Ecology and Management (FEM) Research Group, Departament de Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals, Institut de Recerca de l’Aigua (IdRA)Universitat de Barcelona (UB)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversitySilkeborgDenmark
  4. 4.Sino-Danish Centre for Education and Research (SDC)University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.Greenland Climate Research Centre (GCRC)Greenland Institute of Natural ResourcesNuukGreenland
  6. 6.Arctic Research CentreAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  7. 7.GRECO, Institute of Aquatic EcologyUniversity of GironaGironaSpain
  8. 8.ICREA, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced StudiesBarcelonaSpain

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