Whole-Lake Sugar Addition Demonstrates Trophic Transfer of Dissolved Organic Carbon to Top Consumers
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CitationJones Roger I.. Kankaala Paula. Nykänen Hannu. Peura Sari. Rask Martti. Vesala Sami. (2017). Whole-Lake Sugar Addition Demonstrates Trophic Transfer of Dissolved Organic Carbon to Top Consumers. ECOSYSTEMS (N.Y.), [Epub Jun 21 2017], 1-12. 10.1007/s10021-017-0164-6.
Terrestrial dissolved organic carbon (DOC) provides an external carbon source to lake ecosystems. However, there is ongoing debate about whether external DOC that enters a lake can pass up the food web to support top consumers. We show, from experimental manipulation of a whole lake, that externally loaded DOC can contribute appreciably to fish biomass. Monthly additions of cane sugar with a distinct carbon stable isotope value during 2 years rapidly enriched the 13C content of zooplankton and macroinvertebrates, with a more gradual 13C enrichment of fish. After sugar addition stopped, the 13C content of consumers reverted towards original values. A simple isotope mixing model indicated that by the end of the sugar addition almost 20% of fish carbon in the lake was derived from the added sugar. Our results provide the first direct experimental demonstration at relevant ecological spatial and temporal scales that externally loaded DOC to lakes can indeed transfer to top consumers.