Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Algal invasions, blooms and biodiversity in lakes: accounting for habitat-specific responses.

Abstract

Range expansions of species comprise a pervasive environmental problem worldwide and can cause substantial ecological and economic impact. However, the magnitude of impact may vary across habitats, highlighting the need to account for spatial heterogeneity in assessment studies. Here we compare invertebrate community structure in three habitats (littoral, sublittoral, and profundal) of boreal lakes that suffer recurring blooms of a regionally expanding, nuisance flagellate, Gonyostomum semen (Raphidophyta), with the assemblage structure in lakes were no blooms occur. We contrast community structure over a 6-year period using univariate metrics (total abundance, community evenness, species richness, and Simpson diversity) and multivariate community similarity to infer habitat-specific associations of local (alpha) diversity. We also calculated indices of multivariate dispersion to infer associations with beta diversity; i.e., whether or not habitats in bloom lakes show faunal homogenisation. Results show that the magnitude of assemblage alteration in bloom relative to bloom-free lakes varied with habitat and increased from the littoral to the profundal habitats. Littoral assemblages in bloom and bloom-free lakes shared similar alpha (taxon richness, evenness and Simpson diversity) and beta diversity characteristics, despite differing in multivariate community similarity. By contrast, alteration of assemblage structure was most severe in the profundal and manifested in reduced diversity and faunal homogenisation (i.e. decreased beta diversity) in bloom relative to bloom-free lakes. This was due to numerical dominance of the predatory phantom midge, Chaoborus flavicans, in the profundal of bloom lakes. Not only do the results highlight that spatial heterogeneity should be accounted for to assess the potential broader impact of nuisance species on biodiversity within lakes; more generally, the dominance of a single species suggests a reduced overall resilience of bloom lakes, making them more susceptible to environmental perturbation.