Top-down control of invertebrates by Ninespine Stickleback in Arctic ponds

Freshwater Science
By: , and 



Despite their widespread presence in northern-latitude ecosystems, the ecological role of Ninespine Stickleback Pungitius pungitius is not well understood. Ninespine Stickleback can occupy both top and intermediate trophic levels in freshwater ecosystems, so their role in food webs as a predator on invertebrates and as a forage fish for upper level consumers probably is substantial. We introduced Ninespine Sticklebacks to fishless ponds to elucidate their potential effects as a predator on invertebrate communities in Arctic lentic freshwaters. We hypothesized that Ninespine Stickleback would affect freshwater invertebrate communities in a top-down manner. We predicted that the addition of Ninespine Sticklebacks to fishless ponds would: 1) reduce invertebrate taxonomic richness, 2) decrease overall invertebrate abundance, 3) reduce invertebrate biomass, and 4) decrease average invertebrate body size. We tested our hypothesis at 2 locations by adding Ninespine Stickleback to isolated ponds and compared invertebrate communities over time between fish-addition and fishless control ponds. Ninespine Sticklebacks exerted strong top-down pressure on invertebrate communities mainly by changing invertebrate taxonomic richness and biomass and, to a lesser extent, abundance and average invertebrate size. Our results supported the hypothesis that Ninespine Stickleback may help shape lentic food webs in the Arctic.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Top-down control of invertebrates by Ninespine Stickleback in Arctic ponds
Series title Freshwater Science
DOI 10.1086/690675
Volume 36
Issue 1
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher The University of Chicago Press
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 14 p.
First page 124
Last page 137
Country United States
State Alaska
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