Journal of Plankton Research, 2006, Vol.28(7), pp.707-718
To test the consequences of decreased diversity and exclusion of keystone species, we compared the planktonic food webs in two acidic (pH3), species-poor mining lakes with those in two species-rich, neutral lakes. The ratio of heterotrophic to autotrophic biomass (H/A) was similar in acidic and neutral lakes with comparable productivity. However, food webs in both acidic lakes were largely restricted to two trophic levels in contrast to the four levels found in neutral lakes. This restriction in food chain length was attributed to the absence of efficient secondary consumers, rather than to productivity or lake size which resulted in unusually low predatorprey weight ratios, with small top predators hardly exceeding their prey in size. In contrast to the neutral lakes, plankton biomass size spectra of acidic lakes were discontinuous due to a lack of major functional groups. The unique size-dependence of feeding modes in pelagic food webs, with bacteria in the smallest size classes followed by autotrophs, herbivores and carnivores, was maintained for bacteria but the other feeding modes strongly overlapped in size. Thus, their characteristic succession along the size gradient was roughly preserved under extreme conditions but the flow of energy along the size gradient was truncated in the acidic lakes. For most but not all attributes studied, differences were larger between acidic and neutral lakes than between neutral lakes of different trophic state.
Feeding ; Plankton Surveys ; Food Chains ; Predation ; Carnivores ; Predators ; Biomass ; Trophic Levels ; Lakes ; Herbivores ; Interspecific Relationships ; Predator Prey Interactions ; Species Diversity ; Consumers ; Mining ; Prey ; Plankton ; Food Webs ; Plankton Surveys ; Feeding ; Food Chains ; Predation ; Carnivores ; Predators ; Biomass ; Succession ; Trophic Levels ; Keystone Species ; Predator-Prey Interactions ; Lakes ; Herbivores ; Interspecific Relationships ; Structure-Function Relationships ; Species Diversity ; Consumers ; Mining ; Prey ; Plankton ; Food Webs ; Freshwater ; Ecosystems and Energetics ; Effects on Organisms ; Ecosystem and Ecology Studies ; Ecology;