Interactions between two functionally distinct aquatic invertebrate herbivores complicate ecosystem- and population-level resilience Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Resilience, the capacity for a system to bounce-back after a perturbation, is critical for conservation and restoration efforts. Different functional traits have differential effects on system-level resilience. We test this experimentally in a lab system consisting of algae consumed by zooplankton, snails, or both, using an eutrophication event as a perturbation. We examined seston settlement load, chlorophyll-a and ammonium concentration as gauges of resilience. We find that Daphnia magna increased our measures of resilience. But this effect is not consistent across ecosystem measures; in fact, D. magna increased the difference between disturbed and undisturbed treatments in seston settlement loads. We have some evidence of shifting reproductive strategy in response to perturbation in D. magna and in the presence of Physa sp. These shifts correspond with altered population levels in D. magna, suggesting feedback loops between the herbivore species. While these results suggest only an ambiguous connection between functional traits to ecosystem resilience, they point to the difficulties in establishing such a link: indirect effects of one species on reproduction of another and different scales of response among components of the system, are just two examples that may compromise the power of simple predictions.


  • Werba, Jo A
  • Phong, Alexander C
  • Brar, Lakhdeep
  • Frempong-Manso, Acacia
  • Oware, Ofure Vanessa
  • Kolasa, Jurek

publication date

  • 2022

published in