Does seston size structure reflect fish-mediated effects on water quality in a degraded semiarid wetland?

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Journal: Environ Monit Assess 2006/09/08
Published: 2007
Authors: Angeler, D. G.;Sanchez-Carrillo, S.;Rodrigo, M. A.;Alvarez-Cobelas, M.;Rojo, C.
Address: Institute of Environmental Sciences, ICAM, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, Spain,

This study evaluates whether the size structure of seston (the sum of living and nonliving particles in the water column) reflects the effects of fish on wetland water quality. Using enclosures, we measured water quality and zooplankton community structure in the presence and absence of two fish species with distinct foraging strategies benthivorous carp (Cyprinus carpio) and planktivorous mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki). Seston collected from the enclosures was counted and sized automatically with a Coulter counter, and the size structure in the range of 1-60 microm was modelled using the underlying Pareto distribution of particles. Only Cyprinus contributed to a loss of water quality (increased nutrient levels, algal and non-algal turbidity, hypoxia), while both fish species changed zooplankton community composition compared to fishless controls. However, these changes were not reflected in parameters goodness of fit (r (2)) and parameter c (slopes) of Pareto models. Multivariate statistics suggest that seston size structure responded more to environmental gradients related to water depth but the relationships were also weak. Our overall result contrasts with the regulation of size spectra constructed from living organisms. Although seston integrates many structural and functional features of the water column, the lack of strong relationships between Pareto model parameters and water quality suggests that a size-based approach to characterise seston structure has a limited potential for assessing biota-mediated effects in wetlands in a straightforward manner.

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