Community cascades in a marine pelagic food web controlled by the non-visual apex predator Mnemiopsis leidyi

Community cascades in a marine pelagic food web controlled by the non-visual apex predator... AbstractTrophic cascades are a ubiquitous feature of many terrestrial and fresh-water food webs, but have been difficult to demonstrate in marine systems with multispecies trophic levels. Here we describe significant trophic cascades in an open coastal planktonic ecosystem exposed to an introduced top predator. The ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi was monitored for an 8-year period concurrent with measures of the food web structure of the plankton and strong trophic cascades were evident. In the 5 years when M. leidyi were found, their target prey (grazing copepods) were reduced 5-fold and the primary producers doubled their biomass when released from the grazing pressure. The increased phytoplankton biomass could unequivocally be assigned to grazing release since concurrent measurements of primary production did not differ between years with or without M. leidyi. Copepod biomass prior to the mass occurrence of the ctenophore was important. The years without M. leidyi had significantly higher biomass of copepods in July, the month preceding the outburst of the ctenophore. The profound changes of the pelagic ecosystem faced with a non-selective apex predator shows that marine communities are not exceptions from trophic cascade mechanisms. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Plankton Research Oxford University Press

Community cascades in a marine pelagic food web controlled by the non-visual apex predator Mnemiopsis leidyi

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Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com
ISSN
0142-7873
eISSN
1464-3774
D.O.I.
10.1093/plankt/fbw096
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractTrophic cascades are a ubiquitous feature of many terrestrial and fresh-water food webs, but have been difficult to demonstrate in marine systems with multispecies trophic levels. Here we describe significant trophic cascades in an open coastal planktonic ecosystem exposed to an introduced top predator. The ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi was monitored for an 8-year period concurrent with measures of the food web structure of the plankton and strong trophic cascades were evident. In the 5 years when M. leidyi were found, their target prey (grazing copepods) were reduced 5-fold and the primary producers doubled their biomass when released from the grazing pressure. The increased phytoplankton biomass could unequivocally be assigned to grazing release since concurrent measurements of primary production did not differ between years with or without M. leidyi. Copepod biomass prior to the mass occurrence of the ctenophore was important. The years without M. leidyi had significantly higher biomass of copepods in July, the month preceding the outburst of the ctenophore. The profound changes of the pelagic ecosystem faced with a non-selective apex predator shows that marine communities are not exceptions from trophic cascade mechanisms.

Journal

Journal of Plankton ResearchOxford University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2017

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