We investigated zooplanktivory and nutrient regeneration by the opossum shrimp Mysis relicta and kokanee Oncorhynchus nerka to assess the relative roles of these planktivores in oligotrophic food webs. Using bioenergetic models and clearance rate estimates, we quantified phosphorus (P) excretion rates and consumption of cladoceran prey by Mysis and kokanees in Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, from 1995 to 1996. Consumption of cladoceran prey by Mysis was 186 kg ?? ha-1 ?? year-1, whereas consumption by kokanees was less than one quarter as much, at 45 kg ?? ha-1 ?? year-1. Similarly, Mysis excreted approximately 0.250 kg P ?? ha-1 ?? year-1 during nighttime migrations into the upper water column, whereas P excretion by kokanees was less than one third as much, at approximately 0.070 kg P ?? ha-1 ?? year-1. On a volumetric basis, nocturnal excretion by Mysis ranged from 0.002 to 0.007 ??g P ?? L-1 ?? d-1 and accounted for less than 1% of the soluble reactive P typically measured in the upper water column of the lake. Hence, nutrient recycling by Mysis may be limited in the upper water column because of the nocturnal feeding habitats that constrain Mysis to deeper strata for much of the day. In spring and autumn months, low abundance of cladoceran prey coincided with high seasonal energy requirements of the Mysis population that were linked to timing of annual Mysis brood release and abundance of age-0 Mysis. Predation by Mysis accounted for 5-70% of daily cladoceran standing stock, supporting the notion that seasonal availability of cladocerans may be regulated by Mysis predation. In lakes where Mysis experience little predation mortality, they likely play a dominant role in food web interactions (e.g., trophic cascades) relative to planktivorous fishes. Biotic mechanisms, such as successful predator-avoidance behavior, omnivorous feeding habits, and seasonal variation in Mysisbiomass, enhance the ability of Mysis to influence food web interactions from an intermediate trophic level.
Additional publication details
Zooplanktivory and nutrient regeneration by invertebrate (Mysis relicta) and vertebrate (Oncorhynchus nerka) planktivores: Implications for trophic interactions in oligotrophic lakes