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Subsidies from anadromous sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) carcasses function as a reciprocal nutrient exchange between marine and freshwaters

September 3, 2018

Nutrient and energy flows across ecosystem boundaries subsidize recipient communities and influence bottom‐up processes in food webs. Migratory fish such as anadromous sea lamprey provide a pulse of marine‐derived nutrients and energy to Atlantic coastal streams in spring when organisms would otherwise be subject to limiting resources. We conducted sea lamprey carcass addition experiments to characterize the role of subsidies on producer and consumer trophic pathways by manipulating subsidy quantity and light exposure. We demonstrated that producer and decomposer productivity is constrained by nutrients during spring; however, these limitations were reduced in producers as light limitations intensified through riparian shading. We observed no significant effects of increasing carcass subsidies on producer and decomposer biomass. Our results suggest that high densities of carcass subsidies may stimulate primary productivity; however, these effects are mediated by the degree of riparian shading, which demonstrated a onefold to fourfold difference in biomass accrual. In addition, sea lamprey carcass nutrients were captured by larval conspecifics. Stable isotopes analysis demonstrated that adult sea lamprey carcass tissue was relatively enriched in 15N and 13C isotopes compared with larvae. We observed significant enrichment in the 13C isotope among larvae sampled after 2 and 4 weeks of exposure to adult carcass nutrients. Our work suggests that a portion of sea lamprey subsidies serve as a reciprocal exchange between freshwaters and the ocean. We highlight that this cross‐ecosystem linkage is likely influenced by subsidy quantity from donor systems and is mediated by environmental characteristics affecting the recipient system.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Subsidies from anadromous sea lamprey (<i>Petromyzon marinus</i>) carcasses function as a reciprocal nutrient exchange between marine and freshwaters
DOI 10.1002/rra.3291
Authors Joseph D. Zydlewski
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title River Research and Applications
Series Number
Index ID 70206189
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown

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