|Title||Effects of the herbivorous minnow, southern redbelly dace (Phoxinus erythrogaster) on stream ecosystem structure and function|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2007|
|Authors||Bertrand, KN, Gido, KB|
|Keywords||grazers, prairie streams, Stream metabolism|
We used field and mesocosm experiments to measure effects of southern redbelly dace (Phoxinus erythrogaster), a grazing minnow, on stream ecosystem structure and function. Ecosystem structure was quantified as algal filament length, algal biomass, size distribution of particulate organic matter (POM), algal assemblage structure, and invertebrate assemblage structure, whereas ecosystem function was based on gross and net primary productivity. Our experiments showed that moderate densities of Phoxinus temporarily reduced mean algal filament length and mean size of POM relative to fishless controls. However, there was no detectable effect on algal biomass or ecosystem primary productivity. Several factors could explain the lack of effect of Phoxinus on primary productivity including increased algal production efficiency in grazed treatments or increased grazing by other organisms in fishless treatments. The inability of Phoxinus to reduce algal biomass and system productivity contrasts with experimental results based on other grazing minnows, such as the central stoneroller (Campostoma anomalum), and questions the generality of grazer effects in stream ecosystems. However, environmental venue and the spatial and temporal scale of ecosystem measurements can greatly influence the outcome of these experiments.