Subsidies of energy and material from the riparian zone have large impacts on recipient stream habitats. Human-induced changes, such as deforestation, may profoundly affect these pathways. However, the strength of individual factors on stream ecosystems is poorly understood since the factors involved often interact in complex ways. We isolated two of these factors, manipulating the flux of terrestrial input and the intensity of light in a 2×2 factorial design, where we followed the growth and diet of two size-classes of brown trout (Salmo trutta) and the development of periphyton, grazer macroinvertebrates, terrestrial invertebrate inputs, and drift in twelve 20 m long enclosed stream reaches in a five-month-long experiment in a boreal coniferous forest stream. We found that light intensity, which was artificially increased 2.5 times above ambient levels, had an effect on grazer density, but no detectable effect on chlorophyll a biomass. We also found a seasonal effect on the amount of drift and that the reduction of terrestrial prey input, accomplished by covering enclosures with transparent plastic, had a negative impact on the amount of terrestrial invertebrates in the drift. Further, trout growth was strongly seasonal and followed the same pattern as drift biomass, and the reduction of terrestrial prey input had a negative effect on trout growth. Diet analysis was consistent with growth differences, showing that trout in open enclosures consumed relatively more terrestrial prey in summer than trout living in covered enclosures. We also predicted ontogenetic differences in the diet and growth of old and young trout, where we expected old fish to be more affected by the terrestrial prey reduction, but we found little evidence of ontogenetic differences. Overall, our results showed that reduced terrestrial prey inputs, as would be expected from forest harvesting, shaped differences in the growth and diet of the top predator, brown trout.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)