Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Common carp disrupt ecosystem structure and function through middle-out effects

Mark A. Kaemingk A I , Jeffrey C. Jolley B , Craig P. Paukert C , David W. Willis H , Kjetil Henderson D , Richard S. Holland E , Greg A. Wanner F and Mark L. Lindvall G

A Department of Natural Resource Management, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA.

B United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia River Fisheries Program Office, 1211 SE Cardinal Court, Vancouver, WA 98683, USA.

C United States Geological Survey, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.

D United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Route 148, Marion, IL 62959, USA.

E Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, PO Box 30370, Lincoln, NE 68701, USA.

F USDA Forest Service, Mt Hood National Forest, Zigzag Ranger District, 70220 East Highway 26, Zigzag, OR 97049, USA.

G Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, 40811 Hackberry Drive, Valentine, NE 69201, USA.

H Deceased. Formerly at Department of Natural Resource Management, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA.

I Corresponding author. Present address. School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA. Email: mkaemingk2@unl.edu

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF15068
Submitted: 20 February 2015  Accepted: 18 March 2016   Published online: 20 June 2016

Abstract

Middle-out effects or a combination of top-down and bottom-up processes create many theoretical and empirical challenges in the realm of trophic ecology. We propose using specific autecology or species trait (i.e. behavioural) information to help explain and understand trophic dynamics that may involve complicated and non-unidirectional trophic interactions. The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) served as our model species for whole-lake observational and experimental studies; four trophic levels were measured to assess common carp-mediated middle-out effects across multiple lakes. We hypothesised that common carp could influence aquatic ecosystems through multiple pathways (i.e. abiotic and biotic foraging, early life feeding, nutrient). Both studies revealed most trophic levels were affected by common carp, highlighting strong middle-out effects likely caused by common carp foraging activities and abiotic influence (i.e. sediment resuspension). The loss of water transparency, submersed vegetation and a shift in zooplankton dynamics were the strongest effects. Trophic levels furthest from direct pathway effects were also affected (fish life history traits). The present study demonstrates that common carp can exert substantial effects on ecosystem structure and function. Species capable of middle-out effects can greatly modify communities through a variety of available pathways and are not confined to traditional top-down or bottom-up processes.

Additional keywords: food webs, ecosystem engineers, shallow lake ecosystems.


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