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Flexible diet and trophic position of dreissenid mussels as inferred from stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen

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Abstract:

In this study, the trophic position and food-web impacts of invading zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) were investigated by sampling mussels, seston (= phytoplankton), macrophytes, zooplankton, and surficial sediment in two small inland lakes (1999–2002) and similarly in western Lake Erie (1999 only). Tissues from quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis) from Lake Erie were also analyzed. Stable-isotope ratios (15N/14N and 13C/12C) were used to identify likely food sources and estimate relative trophic position. For Lake Erie, stable-isotope ratios indicated no diet differences between the two mussel species. For all lakes, zooplankton 13C was indicative of phytoplanktivory. The 13C stable isotope ratios indicated that seston comprised ~50% of food sources for mussels in Lake Erie, but 73%–97% and 52%–100% of the diet of mussel populations in Lake Wawasee and Clark Lake, respectively. Stable nitrogen isotope ratios placed zooplankton at trophic levels equal to or higher than those of mussels in seven of eight comparisons. Dreissena polymorpha and D. bugensis are able to exploit suspended detritus as a significant energy source, as well as compete directly with zooplankton for seston as a food source and with each other in areas of sympatry.

Nous avons étudié la position trophique et les impacts sur le réseau alimentaire des moules zébrées (Dreissena polymorpha) envahissantes en échantillonnant les moules, le seston (= phytoplancton), les macrophytes, le zooplancton et les sédiments de surface dans deux petits lacs continentaux (1999–2002) et aussi dans la région occidentale du lac Érié (seulement en 1999). Nous avons aussi analysé des tissus de D. bugensis (moule quagga) du lac Érié. Les rapports des isotopes stables 15N/14N et 13C/12C ont servi à identifier les sources probables de nourriture et à déterminer la position trophique moyenne. Au lac Érié, les rapports d'isotopes stables n'indiquent pas de différence dans les régimes alimentaires des deux espèces de moules. Dans tous les lacs, le 13C du zooplancton indique que celui-ci se nourrit de phytoplancton. Les rapports d'isotopes stables de 13C montrent que le seston représente ~50 % des sources de nourriture des moules au lac Érié, mais respectivement 73–97 % et 52–100 % de celles des populations de moules des lacs Wawasee et Clark. Dans sept de huit comparaisons, les rapports d'isotopes stables de N placent le zooplancton au même niveau trophique que les moules ou à un niveau supérieur. Les moules D. polymorpha et D. bugensis sont donc capables d'utiliser le détritus en suspension comme source significative d'énergie; elles sont en compétition directe avec le zooplancton pour l'exploitation du seston comme source d'alimentation et sont en compétition l'une avec l'autre dans les zones de sympatrie.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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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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