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Cascading effects from predator removal depend on resource availability in a benthic food web
Sieben, K.; Rippen, A.D.; Eriksson, B.K. (2011). Cascading effects from predator removal depend on resource availability in a benthic food web. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 158(2): 391-400. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-010-1567-5
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Sieben, K.
  • Rippen, A.D.
  • Eriksson, B.K.

Abstract
    We tested joint effects of predator loss and increased resource availability on the grazers’ trophic level and the propagation of trophic interactions in a benthic food web by excluding larger predatory fish from cages and manipulating nutrients in the coastal zone of the Baltic Sea. The combination of nutrient enrichment and excluding larger predators induced an increase in medium-sized predatory fish (three-spined stickleback). The meso-predator fish in turn did not change the total abundance of the invertebrate herbivores, but did cause a substantial shift in their community composition towards the dominance of gastropods by reducing amphipods by 40–60%, while gastropods were left unchanged. The shift in grazer composition generated a 23 times higher producer biomass, but only under nutrient enrichment. Our results show that top-predator declines can substantially shift the species composition at the grazers’ level, but that cascading effects on producers by a trophic cascade strongly depend on resource availability.

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