Arctic Lake Food Webs

Science Center Objects

From 2011 to 2013 we investigated freshwater food webs of Arctic Coastal Plain lakes in Alaska to improve our understanding how Arctic freshwater food webs may respond to landscape change the warmer, drier future.

Return to Wildlife, Fish, and Habitats >> Fish and Aquatic Ecology

We used both observational and experimental approaches to examined the importance of physical drivers on fish species assembly and the foraging roles of fish, which ultimately lead to the formation and structure of aquatic food webs. This study considers the response of fish species to surface water connectivity as a primary driver of species distributions and food web function.

Funding: USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative

Related to Arctic Coastal Plain Studies

A stream flowing from a small lake on the Arctic Coastal Plain

Stream outflow from a lake on the Arctic Coastal Plain. Surface water connectivity affects the occupancy of fish species in lakes, influencing richness, composition, and food web complexity.
(Credit: Sarah Laske, USGS. Public domain.)

 

Releasing ninespine stickleback into a fishless pond

Ninespine stickleback experimental release. The addition of small-bodied ninespine stickleback to fishless thermokarst ponds provided valuable information on their ability to influence invertebrate prey. Through consumption, ninespine stickleback substantially reduced invertebrate biomass during the 6-week experiment.
(Credit: Sarah Laske, USGS. Public domain.)

A northern pike on a measuring board

Northern pike captured from an Arctic Coastal Plain lake. Predatory fish, like this northern pike, occupied only lakes with strong, permanent channel connections. Permanent channel connections provide movement corridors that fish use to swim between summer feeding areas and winter refuges.
(Credit: Sarah Laske, USGS. Public domain.)

A handful of adult ninespine stickleback on a measuring board

A handful of adult ninespine stickleback ready to be measured for total body length. These fish are ubiquitous in freshwater habitats of the Arctic Coastal Plain, outnumbering other fish species by as many as 800 individuals to one.
(Credit: Sarah Laske, USGS. Public domain.)