Browsing by Subject "COASTAL FISH"

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  • Gagnon, Karine; Gustafsson, Camilla; Salo, Tiina; de Rossi, Francesca; Gunell, Sonja; Richardson, J. Paul; Reynolds, Pamela L.; Duffy, J. Emmett; Boström, Christoffer (2021)
    Understanding the ecological interactions that enhance the resilience of threatened ecosystems is essential in assuring their conservation and restoration. Top-down trophic interactions can increase resilience to bottom-up nutrient enrichment, however, as many seagrass ecosystems are threatened by both eutrophication and trophic modifications, understanding how these processes interact is important. Using a combination of approaches, we explored how bottom-up and top-down processes, acting individually or in conjunction, can affect eelgrass meadows and associated communities in the northern Baltic Sea. Field surveys along with fish diet and stable isotope analyses revealed that the eelgrass trophic network included two main top predatory fish species, each of which feeds on a separate group of invertebrate mesograzers (crustaceans or gastropods). Mesograzer abundance in the study area was high, and capable of mitigating the effects of increased algal biomass that resulted from experimental nutrient enrichment in the field. When crustacean mesograzers were experimentally excluded, gastropod mesograzers were able to compensate and limit the effects of nutrient enrichment on eelgrass biomass and growth. Our results suggest that top-down processes (i.e., suppression of algae by different mesograzer groups) may ensure eelgrass resilience to nutrient enrichment in the northern Baltic Sea, and the existence of multiple trophic pathways can provide additional resilience in the face of trophic modifications. However, the future resilience of these meadows is likely threatened by additional local stressors and global environmental change. Understanding the trophic links and interactions that ensure resilience is essential for managing and conserving these important ecosystems and the services they provide.
  • Westerbom, Mats; Lappalainen, Antti; Mustonen, Olli; Norkko, Alf (2018)
    Climate change is predicted to cause a freshening of the Baltic Sea, facilitating range expansions of freshwater species and contractions of marine. Resident marine flounders (Platichthys flesus) and expansive freshwater roach (Rutilus rutilus) are dominant consumers in the Baltic Sea sublittoral where they occur in partial sympatry. By comparing patterns of resource use by flounders and roach along a declining resource gradient of blue mussels (Mytilus trossulus) our aim was to explore predator functional responses and the degree of trophic overlap. Understanding the nature of density-dependent prey acquisition has important implications for predicting population dynamics of both predators and their shared prey. Results showed a highly specialized diet for both species, high reliance on blue mussels throughout the range, similar prey size preference and high trophic overlap. Highest overlap occurred where blue mussels were abundant but overlap was also high where they were scarce. Our results highlight the importance of a single food item - the blue mussel - for both species, likely promoting high population size and range expansion of roach. Findings also suggest that range expansion of roach may have a top-down structuring force on mussels that differ in severity and location from that originating from resident flounders.