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Temporal variation in zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha ) density structure the benthic food web and community composition on hard substrates in Lake Constance, Germany

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Biological Invasions
Issue number12
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)2727-2738
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date3/02/11
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Invasive species often influence existing biocenoses by altering their environment or facilitating the ecology of other species. Here we combined stable isotope analysis with quantitative benthic community sampling to investigate temporal variation in the influence of biodeposition of organic material (biodeposits) by the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) on the benthic food web in hard substrate habitats of Lake Constance, Germany. The accumulation of organic material excreted by zebra mussels (faeces and pseudofaeces) is hypothesised to implement a biodeposition based food web. By means of stable isotope analyses, we found that the feeding strategy of amphipods was dependent on the availability of zebra mussel biodeposits. The proportion of pelagic resources contributing to the diet (by δ13C) and trophic position (by δ15N) of amphipods were significantly and positively correlated to the production of zebra mussel biodeposits. Also, the benthic community in Lower Lake Constance showed a shift towards higher densities of the mayfly Caenis spp., Chironominae, and the caddisfly Ecnomus tenellus, which might act as links to higher trophic levels when more zebra mussel biodeposits were available. These results demonstrate that temporal variation in zebra mussel density, and thus in organic biodeposition, have a strong impact on the benthic communities and food web structure associated with hard substrates to the extent that there may be dependence on zebra mussel occurrence in such habitats in Lake Constance.