Replacement of a native species by a nonnative can have strong effects on ecosystem function, such as altering nutrient cycling or disturbance frequency. Replacements may cause shifts in ecosystem function because nonnatives establish at different biomass, or because they differ from native species in traits like foraging behavior. However, no studies have compared effects of wholesale replacement of a native by a nonnative species on subsidies that support consumers in adjacent habitats, nor quantified the magnitude of these effects. We examined whether streams invaded by nonnative brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in two regions of the Rocky Mountains, USA, produced fewer emerging adult aquatic insects compared to paired streams with native cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii), and whether riparian spiders that depend on these prey were less abundant along streams with lower total insect emergence. As predicted, emergence density was 36% lower from streams with the nonnative fish. Biomass of brook trout was higher than the cutthroat trout they replaced, but even after accounting for this difference, emergence was 24% lower from brook trout streams. More riparian spiders were counted along streams with greater total emergence across the water surface. Based on these results, we predicted that brook trout replacement would result in 6–20% fewer spiders in the two regions. When brook trout replace cutthroat trout, they reduce cross-habitat resource subsidies and alter ecosystem function in stream-riparian food webs, not only owing to increased biomass but also because traits apparently differ from native cutthroat trout.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Species replacement by a nonnative salmonid alters ecosystem function by reducing prey subsidies that support riparian spiders|
|Larger Work Title||Oecologia|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|