Effects of fish species richness and assemblage composition on stream ecosystem function

by C. W. Hargrave
Ecology of Freshwater Fish ()
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Hargrave CW. Effects of fish species richness and assemblage composition on stream ecosystem functionEcology of Freshwater Fish 2009: 18: 24201332. © 2008 The Author. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell MunksgaardAbstract 2013  Biodiversity is declining across aquatic ecosystems because of biological invasions and species extinctions. Because fishes have pervasive effects on ecosystems through species-specific food web interactions, alterations to species and functional richness, and composition of natural assemblages could have negative effects on aquatic ecosystem function. In this study, I tested the effects of fish species and functional richness, and assemblage composition on primary production (PPR), benthic invertebrate density, and benthic particulate organic matter (BPOM) in a 42-day experiment in artificial stream mesocosms. I found that fish species richness and assemblage composition were important predictors of PPR in stream mesocosms. However, the effect of species richness on PPR increased with time, suggesting that richness-related effects might strengthen as the magnitude of community-level interactions increases in ecosystems. There was no effect of fish species or functional richness or assemblage composition on benthic invertebrate densities or BPOM. These data provide additional support that fishes can be important regulators of ecosystem function in aquatic systems, and suggest that positive effects of fishes on ecosystems can be strengthened by increased species richness and composition of the assemblage. This study broadens the applicability of the biodiversity ecosystem-function literature to a new suite of taxa, supporting the overall hypothesis that ecosystem functions and services are likely to decline in response to species extinctions.

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