• Competition between two aquatic microorganisms for oscillating concentrations of phosphorus

      Braddock, Joan Forshaug; Brown, Edward J. (1989)
      The availability of limiting nutrients is a critical factor regulating growth of aquatic microorganisms. In at least some aquatic systems the frequency of addition rather than the absolute concentration of nutrients controls community structure. Gnotobiotic continuous cultures were used to examine the growth characteristics of a green alga (Selenastrum capricornutum) and a heterotrophic yeast (Rhodotorula rubra) when phosphorus-limited steady-state populations were subjected to varying concentrations of pulsed phosphorus. The responses of these organisms to phosphorus additions were measured both in single and dual species continuous cultures. Both organisms exceeded the maximum transport rates for phosphorus predicted from batch and steady-state continuous cultures. Carbon limitation did not cause a decline in phosphorus accumulation in R. rubra. Carbon-limited yeast cultures perturbed with phosphorus attained the highest phosphorus per cell values seen in these studies. The phosphorus pool was not significantly diminished in these cultures only because the total yeast biomass was limited by carbon. These results suggest that carbon-limitation of heterotrophic populations may be essential to the existence of phytoplankton in low-nutrient aquatic environments.
    • Ecological effects of spawning salmon on several southcentral Alaskan streams

      Piorkowski, Robert Joseph (1995)
      The ecological effects of salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) carcasses on southcentral Alaskan streams were studied by: (1) observing salmon carcass decomposition and use; (2) comparing the macroinvertebrate community structure of streams receiving different inputs of salmon carcasses; and (3) quantifying the amount of marine-derived nitrogen (MDN) entering stream food webs using stable-isotope analysis. Abiotic mechanisms, such as large woody debris and the slow waters of stream margins and eddies were important in initial retention of salmon carcasses. Once entrained, carcasses decayed rapidly due to intense microbial processing. Stream insects and fishes were observed consuming carcasses, eggs, and smolts. Macroinvertebrate communities in streams receiving runs of salmon or in lake outlet streams were more diverse taxonomically. One functional feeding group, filterers (including net-spinning caddisflies (Hydropsychidae) uncommon in Alaska), increased in relative abundance. Although many other taxa also responded positively to enrichment, some taxa responded negatively. A significant difference existed in $\partial\sp{15}$N values between MDN and terrestrial sources but natural dissolved inorganic nitrogen contributions to stream food webs ($\approx$90-95% of total N) from groundwater generally overwhelmed the marine signal ($\approx$5-10% of total N). $\partial\sp{15}$N values generally suggested that some MDN ($\approx$15% of total N) entered into food webs after its incorporation into algal biomass but values for certain macroinvertebrate taxa (Arctopsyche and Plumiperla), salmon fry (Oncorhynchus spp.) grayling (Thymallus arcticus), rainbow trout (O. mykiss) and American dippers (Cinclus mexicanus) suggest these biota directly consume substantial amounts (40%-90%) of salmon protein. $\partial\sp{15}$N values in individual macroinvertebrate taxa usually cycled seasonally. All three elements of this investigation support the hypothesis that salmon carcasses can be important in structuring aquatic food webs.
    • The significance of marine-derived biogenic nitrogen in anadromous Pacific salmon freshwater food webs

      Kline, Thomas Clayton, Jr. (1991)
      The natural abundance of the stable isotope ratios $\sp{15}$N/$\sp{14}$N and $\sp{13}$C/$\sp{12}$C expressed as $\delta\sp{15}$N and $\delta\sp{13}$C was used to trace biogenic nutrients delivered by returning adult anadromous Pacific salmon into freshwater systems. These systems were Sashin Creek, a rapidly flushing stream located on Baranof Island, southeastern Alaska and Iliamna Lake, the major sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka, nursery lake in the Kvichak River watershed, Bristol Bay, southwestern Alaska. Marine-derived nitrogen (MDN) was quantifiable by use of an isotope mixing model based on comparison of biota $\delta\sp{15}$N in areas used for spawning by anadromous salmon with salmon-free controls within the same watershed. Control periphyton (benthic primary producers) $\delta\sp{15}$N values $\sim$0 suggested that the control N pool was derived from N$\sb2$ fixation without significant recycling. In contrast, periphyton abundant in areas of intense spawning activity or carcass aggregation had $\delta\sp{15}$N $\sim$ +7. These two values were the basis for comparison of $\delta\sp{15}$N values of higher trophic level biota. A mixing model relating $\delta\sp{15}$N to MDN with trophic level was used to estimate consumer MDN through incorporation of a priori isotopic trophic enrichment factors established in the literature. Distinctive $\delta\sp{13}$C signatures along the Sashin Creek stream gradient and between Iliamna Lake littoral and limnetic production were used in concert with $\delta\sp{15}$N. Sashin Creek fishes reflected isotopic signatures of periphyton and thus production within the same stream section. Isotopic data suggested an overall importance of limnetic production in Iliamna Lake resident fish and juvenile sockeye salmon diets. Salmon eggs and emergent fry retaining the parental marine isotopic signature were distinguishable from autochthonous production derived from marine N, and appear to be a minor dietary component in both Sashin Creek or Iliamna Lake fishes. The proportion of MDN in resident fish N, including juvenile salmon after turnover of the natal N pool, was proportional to the escapement of spawners. Thus there is now direct evidence for a significant natural fertilization process: the flow of remineralized marine-derived biogenic nutrients from returning anadromous Pacific salmon into freshwater food webs.