Browsing by Subject "FOOD-WEB STRUCTURE"

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  • Figueroa, D.; Rowe, O. F.; Paczkowska, J.; Legrand, C.; Andersson, A. (2016)
    Heterotrophic bacteria are, in many aquatic systems, reliant on autochthonous organic carbon as their energy source. One exception is low-productive humic lakes, where allochthonous dissolved organic matter (ADOM) is the major driver. We hypothesized that bacterial production (BP) is similarly regulated in subarctic estuaries that receive large amounts of riverine material. BP and potential explanatory factors were measured during May-August 2011 in the subarctic RAyenne Estuary, northern Sweden. The highest BP was observed in spring, concomitant with the spring river-flush and the lowest rates occurred during summer when primary production (PP) peaked. PLS correlations showed that similar to 60 % of the BP variation was explained by different ADOM components, measured as humic substances, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM). On average, BP was threefold higher than PP. The bioavailability of allochthonous dissolved organic carbon (ADOC) exhibited large spatial and temporal variation; however, the average value was low, similar to 2 %. Bioassay analysis showed that BP in the near-shore area was potentially carbon limited early in the season, while BP at seaward stations was more commonly limited by nitrogen-phosphorus. Nevertheless, the bioassay indicated that ADOC could contribute significantly to the in situ BP, similar to 60 %. We conclude that ADOM is a regulator of BP in the studied estuary. Thus, projected climate-induced increases in river discharge suggest that BP will increase in subarctic coastal areas during the coming century.
  • Rolls, Robert J.; Hayden, Brian; Kahilainen, Kimmo K. (2017)
    Climate change and species invasions represent key threats to global biodiversity. Subarctic freshwaters are sentinels for understanding both stressors because the effects of climate change are disproportionately strong at high latitudes and invasion of temperate species is prevalent. Here, we summarize the environmental effects of climate change and illustrate the ecological responses of freshwater fishes to these effects, spanning individual, population, community and ecosystem levels. Climate change is modifying hydrological cycles across atmospheric, terrestrial and aquatic components of subarctic ecosystems, causing increases in ambient water temperature and nutrient availability. These changes affect the individual behavior, habitat use, growth and metabolism, alter population spawning and recruitment dynamics, leading to changes in species abundance and distribution, modify food web structure, trophic interactions and energy flow within communities and change the sources, quantity and quality of energy and nutrients in ecosystems. Increases in temperature and its variability in aquatic environments underpin many ecological responses; however, altered hydrological regimes, increasing nutrient inputs and shortened ice cover are also important drivers of climate change effects and likely contribute to context-dependent responses. Species invasions are a complex aspect of the ecology of climate change because the phenomena of invasion are both an effect and a driver of the ecological consequences of climate change. Using subarctic freshwaters as an example, we illustrate how climate change can alter three distinct aspects of species invasions: (1) the vulnerability of ecosystems to be invaded, (2) the potential for species to spread and invade new habitats, and (3) the subsequent ecological effects of invaders. We identify three fundamental knowledge gaps focused on the need to determine (1) how environmental and landscape characteristics influence the ecological impact of climate change, (2) the separate and combined effects of climate and non-native invading species and (3) the underlying ecological processes or mechanisms responsible for changes in patterns of biodiversity.
  • Kaunisto, Kari M.; Roslin, Tomas; Sääksjärvi, Ilari E.; Vesterinen, Eero J. (2017)
    Recent advances in molecular techniques allow us to resolve the diet of unstudied taxa. Odonates are potentially important top-down regulators of many insects. Yet, to date, our knowledge of odonate prey use is based mainly on limited observations of odonates catching or eating their prey. In this study, we examine the potential use of metabarcoding in establishing the diet of three adult odonate species (Lestes sponsa, Enallagma cyathigerum, and Sympetrum danae) at a site in southwestern Finland. To this purpose, we compared three different methods for extracting DNA from fecal samples: the Macherey-Nagel Nucleospin XS kit, a traditional salt extraction, and the Zymo Research Fecal Microprep kit. From these extracts, we amplified group-specific mitochondrial markers (COI and 16S rRNA) from altogether 72 odonate individuals, and compared them to comprehensive reference libraries. The three odonate species show major overlap in diet, with no significant differences between individuals of different size and/or gender, reflecting opportunistic foraging of adult odonates. Of a total of 41 different prey species detected, the most frequently consumed ones were Diptera, with additional records of six other orders. Based on our data, the best DNA extraction method is the traditional salt extraction, as it provides the most information on prey content while also being the most economical. To our knowledge, this is the first study to resolve the species-level diet of adult odonates. Armed with the appropriate methodological caveats, we are ready to examine the ecological role of odonates in both terrestrial and aquatic food webs, and in transferring subsidies between these two realms.
  • Fransner, Filippa; Fransson, Agneta; Humborg, Christoph; Gustafsson, Erik; Tedesco, Letizia; Hordoir, Robinson; Nycander, Jonas (2019)
    Coastal seas receive large amounts of terrestrially derived organic carbon (OC). The fate of this carbon, and its impact on the marine environment, is however poorly understood. Here we combine underway CO2 partial pressure (pCO(2)) measurements with coupled 3-D hydrodynamical-biogeochemical modelling to investigate whether remineralization of terrestrial dissolved organic carbon (tDOC) can explain CO2 supersaturated surface waters in the Gulf of Bothnia, a subarctic estuary. We find that a substantial remineralization of tDOC and a strong tDOC-induced light attenuation dampening the primary production are required to reproduce the observed CO2 supersaturated waters in the nearshore areas. A removal rate of tDOC of the order of 1 year, estimated in a previous modelling study in the same area, gives a good agreement between modelled and observed pCO(2). The remineralization rate is on the same order as bacterial degradation rates calculated from published incubation experiments, suggesting that bacteria has the potential to cause this degradation. Furthermore, the observed high pCO(2) values during the ice-covered season argue against photochemical degradation as the main removal mechanism. All of the remineralized tDOC is outgassed to the atmosphere in the model, turning the northernmost part of the Gulf of Bothnia into a source of CO2 to the atmosphere.
  • Santos, Micaela; Cagnolo, Luciano; Roslin, Tomas; Ruperto, Emmanuel; Bernaschini, María Laura; Vázquez, Diego (2021)
    Studying how habitat loss affects the tolerance of ecological networks to species extinction (i.e. their robustness) is key for our understanding of the influence of human activities on natural ecosystems. With networks typically occurring as local interaction networks interconnected in space (a meta-network), we may ask how the loss of specific habitat fragments affects the overall robustness of the meta-network. To address this question, for an empirical meta-network of plants, herbivores and natural enemies we simulated the removal of habitat fragments in increasing and decreasing order of area, age and connectivity for plant extinction and the secondary extinction of herbivores, natural enemies and their interactions. Meta-network robustness was characterized as the area under the curve of remnant species or interactions at the end of a fragment removal sequence. To pinpoint the effects of fragment area, age and connectivity, respectively, we compared the observed robustness for each removal scenario against that of a random sequence. The meta-network was more robust to the loss of old (i.e. long-fragmented), large, connected fragments than of young (i.e. recently fragmented), small, isolated fragments. Thus, young, small, isolated fragments may be particularly important to the conservation of species and interactions, while contrary to our expectations larger, more connected fragments contribute little to meta-network robustness. Our findings highlight the importance of young, small, isolated fragments as sources of species and interactions unique to the regional level. These effects may largely result from an unpaid extinction debt, whereby younger fragments are likely to lose species over time. Yet, there may also be more long-lasting effects from cultivated lands (e.g. water, fertilizers and restricted cattle grazing) and network complexity in small, isolated fragments. Such fragments may sustain important biological diversity in fragmented landscapes, but maintaining their conservation value may depend on adequate restoration strategies.
  • Robinson, Sinikka I.; McLaughlin, Órla B.; Marteinsdóttir, Bryndís; O'Gorman, Eoin J. (2018)
    1. Global warming is predicted to significantly alter species physiology, biotic interactions and thus ecosystem functioning, as a consequence of coexisting species exhibiting a wide range of thermal sensitivities. There is, however, a dearth of research examining warming impacts on natural communities. 2. Here, we used a natural warming experiment in Iceland to investigate the changes in above-ground terrestrial plant and invertebrate communities along a soil temperature gradient (10 degrees C-30 degrees C). 3. The alpha-diversity of plants and invertebrates decreased with increasing soil temperature, driven by decreasing plant species richness and increasing dominance of certain invertebrate species in warmer habitats. There was also greater species turnover in both plant and invertebrate communities with increasing pairwise temperature difference between sites. There was no effect of temperature on percentage cover of vegetation at the community level, driven by contrasting effects at the population level. 4. There was a reduction in the mean body mass and an increase in the total abundance of the invertebrate community, resulting in no overall change in community biomass. There were contrasting effects of temperature on the population abundance of various invertebrate species, which could be explained by differential thermal tolerances and metabolic requirements, or may have been mediated by changes in plant community composition. 5. Our study provides an important baseline from which the effect of changing environmental conditions on terrestrial communities can be tracked. It also contributes to our understanding of why community-level studies of warming impacts are imperative if we are to disentangle the contrasting thermal responses of individual populations.
  • Weigel, Benjamin; Bonsdorff, Erik (2018)
    Increasing environmental pressures and human impacts are reshaping community structures and species interactions throughout all trophic levels. The morphological and behavioural characteristics of species communities contain key ecological information on why prey species appear attractive to predators but are rarely applied when exploring predator-prey (PP) relationships. Expanding our knowledge on how changing prey communities can alter the food resource suitability (RS) for predators is vital for understanding PP dynamics in changing ecosystems. Detailed predator diet data are commonly restricted to commercially important species and often not available over long temporal scales. To find out whether structural changes of prey communities impact the food RS for predator communities over space and time, we apply a novel framework to describe and interpret changes in predator diet-suitability based on predation-relevant traits of prey. We use information on described feeding links from the literature to compile the prey spectrum for each predator and subsequently translate the prey-species into a prey-trait spectrum. For each predator, we then calculate a frequency-based prey-trait affinity score and relate it to the available food resource pool, the community weighted means of prey traits, resulting in a prey-suitability measure. We aim to reveal whether a described multi-decadal change in the community structure of zoobenthos had an impact on the food suitability for the benthic-feeding fish in a coastal system of the Baltic Sea. We assess the direction of change in resource quality from the perspective of benthic-feeding fish and describe predator-specific responses to examine which species are likely to profit or be disadvantaged by changes in their prey spectrum. Furthermore, we test the relationship between functional diversity of prey communities and food suitability for predators, and whether predation linkage-structures are affected through prey community-changes. Our results show that changes in zoobenthic communities had a positive effect on the food suitability for most benthic-feeding fish, implying more suitable food resources. Species-specific responses of predators suggest varying plasticity to cope with prey assemblages of different trait compositions. Additionally, the functional diversity of zoobenthos had a positive effect on the food suitability for predator fish. The changing trait compositions of prey influenced the PP linkage-structure, indicating varying specialisation of benthic feeding fish towards available food resources. Our findings suggest that changing morphological characteristics of prey can impact food RS features for its predators. This approach enables long-term evaluation of prey quality characteristics where no detailed diet data is available and allows for cross-system comparison as it is not relying on taxonomic identities per se.