Original paper

Isotopic variation complicates analysis of trophic relations within the fish community of Plusharpsee: a small, deep, stratifying lake

Harrod, Chris; Grey, Jonathan

Abstract

Analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes has allowed freshwater ecologists to examine lake food webs in increasing detail. Many such studies have highlighted the existence of separate within-lake pelagic and benthic-littoral food webs but are typically conducted on large (> 10 km2) lakes, whereas the majority of lakes are actually relatively small. We used stable isotope analysis (δ13C & δ15N) to examine trophic interactions between fish and their prey in Plußsee, as an example of a small, stratifying lake, and to determine whether separate pelagic/benthic-littoral food webs could be distinguished in such systems. Our results indicate that the Plußsee food web was complicated, and due to extensive intra-annual isotopic variation in zooplankton (e.g.cladoceran δ13C annual range = 25.6‰), it may be impossible to definitively assign consumers from small, eutrophic stratified lakes to pelagic or benthic-littoral food webs. We present evidence that some components of the Plußsee food web (large bream) may be subsidised by carbon of methanogenic origin.

Keywords

delta13cdelta15nstable isotope analysisfood weblake sizepelagicbenthic-littoral