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Marine nutrient transport: anadromous fish migration linked to the freshwater amphipod Gammarus fasciatus

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Migrating anadromous fish may transfer marine-derived nutrients to oligotrophic tidal fresh water. River herrings (genus Alosa Linck, 1790) are the dominant anadromous genus in Virginia, USA. This study investigates whether marine nutrients derived from spawning Alosa spp. were incorporated into benthic invertebrates by using the stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen. Spawning Alosa spp. had higher 13C and 15N values (-18.5‰ and 13.9‰, respectively) than resident freshwater omnivorous fishes (-25.7‰ and 11.8‰, respectively). In a tidal stream supporting abundant spawning Alosa spp., 13C and 15N enrichment was observed in stream amphipods (Gammarus fasciatus Say, 1818) coincident with the spawning migration of Alosa spp. The 13C value for G. fasciatus increased from -28.5‰ to -26.0‰ from early to late April then fell to -28.1‰ in early June. A similar trend was observed in mayflies (Heptageniidae). Particulate organic matter and sediments from both streams remained depleted in 13C (between -29‰ and -28‰) and 15N (between 0.5‰ and 3.0‰) during the spawning run of Alosa spp. It is estimated that between 5% and 35% of amphipod biomass may be derived from marine carbon brought to tidal fresh water by spawning Alosa spp.

Les poissons migrateurs anadromes peuvent transférer des nutriments d’origine marine aux eaux douces de marée oligotrophes. Les aloses (genre Alosa Linck, 1790) sont le genre dominant de poissons anadromes en Virginie, É.-U. Notre étude examine à l’aide des isotopes stables de carbone et d’azote si les nutriments marins dérivés de la fraie des Alosa spp. sont incorporés dans les invertébrés benthiques. Les Alosa spp. en fraie possèdent des 13C et des 15N (respectivement -18,5 ‰ et 13,9 ‰) plus élevés que ceux des poissons omnivores résidants des eaux douces (respectivement -25,7 ‰ et 11,8 ‰). Dans un chenal de marée contenant de nombreux Alosa spp. en fraie, nous avons observé un enrichissement en 13C et en 15N dans les amphipodes lotiques (Gammarus fasciatus Say, 1818) qui coïncide avec la saison de fraie des Alosa spp. La valeur de 13C de G. fasciatus a augmenté de -28,5 ‰ à -26,0 ‰ du début à la fin d’avril, puis est retombé à -28,1 ‰ au début de juin. Une tendance semblable a été observée chez les éphéméroptères (Heptageniidae). La matière organique particulaire et les sédiments des deux chenaux sont restés appauvris en 13C et en 15N (respectivement entre -29 ‰ et -28 ‰) durant la migration de fraie des Alosa spp. (respectivement entre 0,5 ‰ et 3,0 ‰). Nous estimons qu’entre 5 % et 35 % de la biomasse des amphipodes peut provenir du carbone marin apporté dans les eaux douces de marée par les Alosa spp. en fraie.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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