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Indirect effects of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) on the planktonic food web

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The exotic zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) has caused dramatic reductions in phytoplankton density in lakes with dense mussel populations. However, the indirect effects of this invader on other trophic groups have been inconsistent and difficult to interpret. In some lakes, zebra mussels appear to have had little effect on zooplankton density, despite decreasing the abundance of their phytoplankton prey. We analyze food web models to test hypothesized mechanisms for the absence of a strong effect of dreissenids on zooplankton. Our results suggest that neither reduced inedible algal interference with zooplankton filtering nor reduced phytoplankton self-shading is sufficient to explain the insensitivity of zooplankton populations to dreissenid competition. Instead, we show how the impact of benthic filter feeders can be influenced by the rate of mixing within a basin, which limits phytoplankton delivery to the benthos. We explore the predictions of a simple spatially structured model and demonstrate that differences in abiotic factors that control mixing can result in large differences in direct and indirect effects of zebra mussel filtering.

Les lacs qui possèdent de grandes densités de moules zébrées (Dreissena polymorpha), une espèce exotique, subissent de fortes réductions de la densité du phytoplancton. Cependant, les effets indirects de cette espèce envahissante sur les autres groupes trophiques sont variables et difficiles à interpréter. Dans certains lacs, les moules zébrées semblent avoir peu d'effet sur la densité du zooplancton, malgré le déclin de l'abondance du phytoplancton qui leur sert de nourriture. Des modèles de réseaux alimentaires nous permettent de vérifier les mécanismes suggérés pour expliquer l'absence d'effets significatifs des dreissénidés sur le zooplancton. Nos résultats montrent que ni la réduction de l'interférence des algues non comestibles sur la filtration du zooplancton, ni la diminution de l'auto-ombrage par le phytoplancton ne sont assez importantes pour expliquer que les populations de zooplancton ne soient pas affectées par la compétition des dreissenidés. Plutôt, l'impact des filtreurs benthiques est influencé par le degré de brassage dans le bassin, ce qui limite l'apport de phytoplancton au benthos. L'examen des prédictions d'un modèle simple à structure spatiale nous permet de démontrer que des différences dans les facteurs abiotiques qui contrôlent le brassage peuvent amener des différences importantes dans les effets directs et indirects de la filtration des moules zébrées.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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