Food web structure of three Mediterranean stream reaches along a gradient of anthropogenic impact
Williamson, Tanner J.
Gonzalez-Perez, Jose Antonio
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Anthropogenic impact can alter food web structure through changes in species interactions. In this study, we explored the food web of three Mediterranean stream reaches (two seasonal and one permanent) along an anthropogenic impact gradient to test the hypothesis that increasing impact simplifies food webs. To test this, we applied the isotopic (δ13C and δ15N) niche concept to compare reaches using isotopic metrics (isotopic richness, divergence, dispersion, evenness, and redundancy). The isotopic indices were useful to identify differences in food web architecture among the three reaches. The least impacted site had the highest isotopic richness, dispersion, and isotopic redundancy, suggesting higher ecological resilience at this site. The effect of disturbance in the remaining two sites was masked by the presence of invasive crayfish, which increased isotopic divergence and was responsible for higher food-chain length in the most impacted reach, but not in the moderately impacted reach. Consumers displayed generalistic feeding habits, with Bayesian mixing models indicating that they relied primarily on a mixture of periphyton, other macroinvertebrates, and to a lesser extent, detritus. Some taxa displayed changes in their dietary habitats depending on the site, indicating that the same type of taxa fed on distinct foods at each stream reach.
- Marine Science Cluster [90 items ]