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Changing ecosystem dynamics in the Laurentian Great Lakes: bottom-up and top-down regulation

BioScience

By:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
DOI: 10.1093/biosci/bit001

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Abstract

Understanding the relative importance of top-down and bottom-up regulation of ecosystem structure is a fundamental ecological question, with implications for fisheries and water-quality management. For the Laurentian Great Lakes, where, since the early 1970s, nutrient inputs have been reduced, whereas top-predator biomass has increased, we describe trends across multiple trophic levels and explore their underlying drivers. Our analyses revealed increasing water clarity and declines in phytoplankton, native invertebrates, and prey fish since 1998 in at least three of the five lakes. Evidence for bottom-up regulation was strongest in Lake Huron, although each lake provided support in at least one pair of trophic levels. Evidence for top-down regulation was rare. Although nonindigenous dreissenid mussels probably have large impacts on nutrient cycling and phytoplankton, their effects on higher trophic levels remain uncertain. We highlight gaps for which monitoring and knowledge should improve the understanding of food-web dynamics and facilitate the implementation of ecosystem-based management.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Changing ecosystem dynamics in the Laurentian Great Lakes: bottom-up and top-down regulation
Series title:
BioScience
DOI:
10.1093/biosci/bit001
Volume
64
Issue:
1
Year Published:
2014
Language:
English
Publisher:
Oxford Journals
Contributing office(s):
Great Lakes Science Center
Description:
14 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
26
Last page:
39