Effects of Partially Anadromous Arctic Charr (Salvelinus alpinus) Populations on Ecology of Coastal Arctic Lakes
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Little research has been conducted on effects of iteroparous anadromous fishes on Arctic lakes. We investigated trophic ecology, fish growth, and food web structure in six lakes located in Nunavut, Canada; three lakes contained anadromous Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) whereas three lakes did not contain Arctic charr. All lakes contained forage fishes and lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush; top predator). Isotope ratios (δ¹³C, δ¹⁵N) of fishes and invertebrates did not differ between lakes with and without anadromous Arctic charr; if anadromous Arctic charr deliver marine-derived nutrients and/or organic matter to freshwater lakes, these inputs could not be detected with δ¹³C and/or δ¹⁵N. Lake trout carbon (C):nitrogen (N) and condition were significantly higher in lakes with Arctic charr (C:N = 3.42, K = 1.1) than in lakes without Arctic charr (C:N = 3.17, K = 0.99), however, and ninespine stickleback (Pungitius pungitius) condition was significantly lower in lakes with Arctic charr (K = 0.58) than in lakes without Arctic charr (K = 0.64). Isotope data indicated that pre-smolt and resident Arctic charr may be prey for lake trout and compete with ninespine stickleback. Linear distance metrics applied to isotope data showed that food webs were more compact and isotopically redundant in lakes where Arctic charr were present. Despite this, lake trout populations in lakes with Arctic charr occupied a larger isotope space and showed greater inter-individual isotope differences. Anadromous Arctic charr appear to affect ecology and feeding of sympatric freshwater species, but effects are more subtle than those seen for semelparous anadromous species.
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