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Decrease in young-of-the-year yellow perch growth rates following Bythotrephes longimanus invasion

Abstract

Bythotrephes longimanus, an invasive zooplankter from Eurasia, has caused severe declines in native zooplankton communities in Rainy and Kabetogama lakes in northern Minnesota. Both lakes have experienced a 40–60% decrease in peak summer zooplankton biomass following B. longimanus establishment around 2006–2007. In these lakes, yellow perch (Perca flavescens) are a key fishery species, and young-of-the-year (YOY) yellow perch are mainly planktivorous during their first summer. This led to concern that their growth could be detrimentally affected by the depletion of zooplankton forage. We used seining data to compare growth rates of YOY yellow perch before (2001–2005) and after (2008–2012) B. longimanus establishment in Rainy and Kabetogama lakes. Nearby Lake Vermilion, assumed to have been unaffected by B. longimanus during this time period, was used as a reference for natural variation in YOY growth in the region. YOY yellow perch length was modeled as a linear function of cumulative growing degree days (GDD) throughout the summer, and the slope of the relationship was compared between pre- and post-B. longimanus time periods for the three study lakes. The two lakes with B. longimanus showed similar decreases in YOY yellow perch growth rate relative to GDD, whereas Lake Vermilion showed no evidence of a decline in growth rates during this period. The reduction in growth rates resulted in an approximate 10% decrease in mean length of YOY yellow perch at the end of the summer after B. longimanus establishment, which could lead to further effects of this invasive zooplankter at higher trophic levels.

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Acknowledgements

Thank you to numerous MN Department of Natural Resources fisheries personnel for their work in collecting the many years of yellow perch length data necessary for these analyses, and special thanks to K. Peterson, B. Vondra, D. Williams, and M. Hennen for their local knowledge and work in managing the data. Authors would also like to thank M. Treml, J. Giudice and V. St-Louis in addition to three anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts.

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Correspondence to David F. Staples.

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Staples, D.F., Maki, R.P., Hirsch, J.K. et al. Decrease in young-of-the-year yellow perch growth rates following Bythotrephes longimanus invasion. Biol Invasions 19, 2197–2205 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1431-3

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Keywords

  • Spiny water flea
  • YOY growth
  • YOY survival
  • Trophic cascade
  • Food web impacts