Abstract

Invasive species are considered the greatest threat to aquatic ecosystem biodiversity. Bythotrephes longimanus, an exotic zooplankton species introduced to North America in the 1980s, is threatening the structure of indigenous aquatic ecosystems as it continues to invade inland Ontario lakes. As a predacious zooplankton species, B. longimanus has been shown to decrease zooplankton abundance, species richness and shift zooplankton community size structure in invaded lakes. However, much of the previous research concerning the predatory effects of B. longimanus has been on surveys of a small number of lakes or has been in controlled mesocosm or lab-based experiments. This study examines the effects of B. longimanus on the zooplankton community using size-structure characterizations (grouping individuals from the community based on size) as community measures for 311 lakes in the Muskoka Region, a highly invaded watershed in Southern Ontario. More specifically, the study explores the size-spectra of invaded versus uninvaded lakes, with reference to an array of environmental lake characteristics (water chemistry, lake morphometry,etc.), and the relevance of B. longimanus activity on the regional scale. By using such a large-scale survey we will be able to appreciate regional-scale effects, as well as encompass the multiple and more indirect trophic interactions that B. longimanus is likely having with the entire aquatic community. (Funding: NSERC & CAISN.)

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