Impact of fish introduction on planktonic food webs in lakes of the Patagonian Plateau
REISSIG, M., TROCHINE, C., QUEIMALIÑOS, C., BALSEIRO, E. & MODENUTTI, B.
Elsevier Sci. Ltd.
Lugar: Oxford; Año: 2006 vol. 132 p. 437 - 447
Patagonia fishless ponds have been stocked with fishes for recreational purposes since early in the 20th century. We carried out a summer plankton sampling in 18 Patagonian lakes; 12 fishless, 5 with introduced fishes and 1 with endemic fish fauna. The lakes are situated on a latitudinal gradient from 39º to 49ºS. Zooplankton and phytoplankton composition, phytoplankton relative abundance, and zooplankton body size and mouthpart morphology were analyzed. Results showed differences between lakes with and without fishes; in the presence of fish zooplankton size spectrum tended to be narrower because of the disappearance of Daphnia and large centropagid copepods. Zooplankton composition changed: centropagid species richness decreased and rotifers dominated. Contrarily, in fishless lakes 3 or 4 centropagid species, differing markedly in body size and exploiting different food niches, were observed co-occurring. These changes in zooplankton seemed to cascade down to phytoplankton. Fish introduction increased the phytoplankton similarity in lakes even belonging to different basins in a latitudinal gradient. Indeed, cyanobacteria dominated only in lakes with introduced fishes. Probably the elimination of Daphnia favored cyanobacteria proliferation due to nutrient rebalance. As a consequence, water quality decreases and the value of sport fisheries is reduced. Fish introduction in Patagonia is a practice that should be re-evaluated by governments and NGOs due to its potentially negative impact on lakes and local economies.