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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 62(4)

Disproportionate importance of nearshore habitat for the food web of a deep oligotrophic lake

Stephanie E. Hampton A E, Steven C. Fradkin B, Peter R. Leavitt C and Elizabeth E. Rosenberger D

A National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, 735 State St. Suite 300, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA.
B Olympic National Park, National Park Service, 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362, USA.
C University of Regina, Department of Biology, Regina, SK, S4S 0A2 Canada.
D Rocky Mountain Research Station, Boise Aquatic Sciences Lab, 322 East Front St. Suite 401, Boise, ID 83709, USA.
E Corresponding author. Email: hampton@nceas.ucsb.edu

Marine and Freshwater Research 62(4) 350-358 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF10229
Submitted: 29 August 2010  Accepted: 20 December 2010   Published: 28 April 2011

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In large deep oligotrophic lakes, multiple lines of evidence suggest that the shallow nearshore water provides disproportionately important feeding and breeding habitat for the whole-lake food web. We examined the trophic importance of the nearshore environment, human impacts nearshore, and several approaches to disturbance detection in a deep (190 m) oligotrophic lake with relatively modest residential development. In Lake Crescent, on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington (USA), stable isotope analysis demonstrated that apex salmonid predators derived more than 50% of their carbon from nearshore waters, even though this nearshore water accounted for only 2.5% of total lake volume. Unfortunately, it is this land–water interface that is initially degraded as shorelines are developed. We hypothesised that under these conditions of relatively modest disturbance, the effects of residential development would be strongly localised near to shore. Indeed, we found striking differences between developed and undeveloped sites in periphyton and associated organic matter, though there were no offshore signals of human impact in water nutrient analysis or paleolimnological investigations. Together, these results suggest that nearshore biological monitoring should be integrated in lake management plans to provide ‘early warning’ of potential food-web repercussions before pollution problems are evident in open water and comparatively intractable.

Additional keywords: habitat coupling, littoral zone, Oncorhynchus clarkii, Oncorhynchus mykiss, recreational fisheries, septic systems.


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