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Changes in the 13C of pelagic food webs: the influence of lake area and trophic status on the isotopic signature of whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus)

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We investigated the relationships between the pattern of variation of 13C in pelagic food webs and various morphologic and trophic characteristics of peri-alpine lakes. We used the 13C of whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus), a long-lived zooplanktivorous fish, to assess the isotope ratio of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) at the origin of the pelagic food web. The 13C of DIC depends on its origin, which may be the atmosphere or the mineralization of organic matter. A synchronic study of 22 peri-alpine lakes shows that the surface area of the lake accounts for much of the variability of the 13C in pelagic food webs (r2 = 0.76). The 13C increases with lake size, which suggests that the origin of the DIC integrated into the pelagic food web depends on lake size. To differentiate the influence of trophic status from morphological effects, a diachronic study was performed on the 13C of fish scales collected over the 20-year re-oligotrophication of Lake Geneva. The 13C of whitefish increased with phosphorus concentration (r2 = 0.71). This pattern is related to the growing demand for atmospheric DIC as primary production increases.

Nous avons étudié le profil de variation du 13C des réseaux trophiques pélagiques en fonction de différentes caractéristiques morphologiques et trophiques de lacs péri-alpins. Nous avons utilisé la signature isotopique du corégone, Coregonus lavaretus, un poisson zooplanctonophage à longue durée de vie, pour obtenir une estimation de la signature du carbone inorganique dissous (CID) à l'origine du réseau trophique pélagique. Le 13C du CID dépend de son origine : atmosphérique ou issu des processus de minéralisation de la matière organique. Par une étude synchrone sur 22 lacs péri-alpins, nous avons montré que la surface est le facteur qui explique la plus grande part de la variabilité du 13C (r2 = 0.76). La signature 13C du corégone augmente avec la taille du lac, indiquant que l'origine du CID intégré dans le réseau pélagique dépend de la taille du système. Pour étudier l'influence du statut trophique en se dégageant de l'influence de la taille du lac, nous avons mené une étude diachronique, à partir d'une collection d'écailles couvrant la période de re-oligotrophisation du lac de Genève (20 ans). Le 13C du corégone augmente avec la concentration en phosphore (r2 = 0.71), en relation avec un besoin croissant en CID d'origine atmosphérique lorsque la production primaire augmente.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2004

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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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