Riparian defoliation by the invasive green alder sawfly influences terrestrial prey subsidies to salmon streams.
Invasive species in riparian forests are unique as their effects can transcend ecosystem boundaries via stream-riparian linkages. The green alder sawfly (Monsoma pulveratum) is an invasive wasp whose larvae are defoliating riparian thin-leaf alder (Alnus tenuifolia) stands across southcentral Alaska. To test the hypothesis that riparian defoliation by this invasive sawfly negatively affects the flow of terrestrial prey resources to stream fishes, we sampled terrestrial invertebrates on riparian alder foliage, their subsidies to streams and their consumption by juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). Invasive sawflies altered the composition of terrestrial invertebrates on riparian alder foliage and as terrestrial prey subsidies to streams. Community analyses supported these findings revealing that invasive sawflies shifted the community structure of terrestrial invertebrates between seasons and levels of energy flow (riparian foliage, streams and fish). Invasive sawfly biomass peaked mid-summer, altering the timing and magnitude of terrestrial prey subsidies to streams. Contrary to our hypothesis, invasive sawflies had no effect on the biomass of native taxa on riparian alder foliage, as terrestrial prey subsidies, or in juvenile coho salmon diets. Juvenile coho salmon consumed invasive sawflies when most abundant, but relied more on other prey types selecting against sawflies relative to their availability. Although we did not find effects of invasive sawflies extending to juvenile coho salmon in this study, these results could change as the distribution of invasive sawflies expands or as defoliation intensifies. Nevertheless, riparian defoliation by these invasive sawflies is likely having other ecological effects that merits further investigation.