Food-Web Modification by an Invertebrate Predator in the Great Salt Lake (USA)
food-web modification, invertebrate predator, Great Salt Lake
During unusually wet years the salinity of the Great Salt Lake (Utah) decreased from above 100 g/L to 50 g/L. This allowed the predaceous insect Trichocorixa verticalis to invade the pelagic region of the lake and reach a mean summer density of 52/m3. Concurrent changes in the pelagic ecosystem were: a decrease in the dry biomass of the previously dominant filter-feeding brine shrimp Artemia franciscana from 720 to 2 mg/m3, the invasion of three other zooplankton taxa, a 10 × decrease in community filtration rate, a 20 × increase in chlorophyll a concentration, a 4 × decrease in water clarity and perhaps a decrease in soluble nutrients. Trichocorixa abundance was also inversely correlated with the abundance of Artemia along a salinity gradient in the lake's estuary. In a 9-d microcosm experiment Trichocorixa preyed on nauplii and decreased the total density of Artemia from 103 to 6/L. The reduction in Artemia allowed protozoans to increase 10–100 ×. Changes in chlorophyll and clarity were consistent with those observed in the lake. These results suggest that invertebrate predation may be an important factor structuring simple food webs such as those found in moderately saline lakes.
Wurtsbaugh, W.A. 1992. Food-web modification by an invertebrate predator in the Great Salt Lake (USA). Oecologia 89:168-175.