Modeling potential impacts of three benthic invasive species on the Lake Erie food web
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Modeling potential impacts of three benthic invasive species on the Lake Erie food web
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    Biological Invasions, 21(5), 1697-1719.
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  • Description:
    Assessing the potential for aquatic invasive species (AIS) to impact ecosystem function and services is an important component of ecological risk assessment. This study focuses on quantifying changes in biomass of food web groups in response to changes in AIS biomass as a function of variable AIS prey vulnerabilities (i.e. food availability) and AIS vulnerabilities to predators (i.e. predation pressure). We modified an existing Lake Erie food web model to assess the potential food web impacts of three benthic AIS (Eurasian ruffe Gymnocephalus cernua, killer shrimp Dikerogammarus villosus, and golden mussel Limnoperna fortunei) that may invade Lake Erie in the near future. Simulated biomass of golden mussels was most affected by bottom-up control, while killer shrimp and ruffe were affected by both top-down and bottom-up controls. AIS food web impacts showed both monotonic and non-monotonic responses to AIS biomass. Impacts from ruffe were highest when their biomass was high, while killer shrimp and golden mussels had maximal impacts at intermediate biomass levels on some food web groups. Our results suggest that golden mussels, which can feed at a lower trophic level and have fewer predators than ruffe or killer shrimp, may reach much higher equilibrium biomass under some scenarios and affect a broader range of food web groups. While all three species may induce negative effects if introduced to Lake Erie, golden mussels may pose the highest risk of impact for Lake Erie's food web.
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