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Anadromous alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus) contribute marine-derived nutrients to coastal stream food webs

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Abstract:

Diadromous fish are an important link between marine and freshwater food webs. Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) strongly impact nutrient dynamics in inland waters and anadromous alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) may play a similar ecological role along the Atlantic coast. The annual spawning migration of anadromous alewife contributes, on average, 1050 g of nitrogen and 120 g of phosphorus to Bride Brook, Connecticut, USA, through excretion and mortality each year. Natural abundance stable isotope analyses indicate that this influx of marine-derived nitrogen is rapidly incorporated into the stream food web. An enriched 15N signal, indicative of a marine origin, is present at all stream trophic levels with the greatest level of enrichment coincident with the timing of the anadromous alewife spawning migration. There was no significant effect of this nutrient influx on water chemistry, leaf decomposition, or periphyton accrual. Dam removal and fish ladder construction will allow anadromous alewife to regain access to historical freshwater spawning habitats, potentially impacting food web dynamics and nutrient cycling in coastal freshwater systems.

Les poissons diadromes établissent un lien important entre les réseaux alimentaires marins et ceux d’eau douce. Les saumons du Pacifique (Oncorhynchus spp.) affectent fortement la dynamique des nutriments dans les eaux intérieures et les gaspareaux anadromes (Alosa pseudoharengus) peuvent jouer un rôle écologique similaire le long de la côte de l’Atlantique. La migration annuelle de fraie des gaspareaux anadromes contribue, en moyenne chaque année, 1050g d’azote et 120g de phosphore par excrétion et par mortalité à Bride Brook, Connecticut, É.-U. Des analyses de l’abondance naturelle des isotopes stables indiquent que cet apport d’azote d’origine marine est rapidement incorporé dans le réseau alimentaire du cours d’eau. Un signal enrichi de 15N, qui dénote l’origine marine, se retrouve à tous les niveaux trophiques du cours d’eau et les degrés maximaux d’enrichissement coïncident avec le moment de la migration de fraie des gaspareaux anadromes. Il n’y a aucun effet significatif de cet apport de nutriments sur la chimie de l’eau, ni la décomposition des feuilles, ni l’accumulation de périphyton. Le retrait des barrages et la construction d’échelles à poissons permettront aux gaspareaux de retrouver l’accès à leurs habitats de fraie en eau douce du passé, ce qui aura potentiellement un impact sur la dynamique des réseaux alimentaires et le recyclage des nutriments dans les écosystèmes côtiers d’eau douce.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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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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