• Thirty years of change in a benthic macroinvertebrate community of southwestern Lake Ontario after invasion by four Ponto-Caspian species

      Bailey Barrett, Katherine; Haynes, James M.; Warton, David I.; The College at Brockport (2017-03-01)
      Beginning in the mid-1980s, the Laurentian Great Lakes underwent successive invasions by PontoCaspian species. We quantified major changes in the diversity and relative abundance of pre-invasion benthic macroinvertebrates at the same study site in southwestern Lake Ontario from 1983–2014. The zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha Pallas arrived at the study site before 1991, the quagga mussel Dreissena rostriformis bugensis Andrusov and the amphipod Echinogammarus ischnus Stebbing arrived before 1999, and the Round Goby Neogobius melanostomus Pallas arrived about 2004. The macroinvertebrate community in 2014 was very different from 3 earlier communities in 1983, 1991, and 1999. In 2014, pulmonate and prosobranch snails and sphaeriid bivalves were absent, D. r. bugensis replaced D. polymorpha, E. ischnus replaced Gammarus fasciatus Say as the dominant amphipod, and a previously diverse community of benthic fish was replaced by abundant N. melanostomus. From 1983 to 1999, the relative abundance of prosobranchs and pulmonates declined 10-fold and rose 2-fold, respectively. From 1991 to 2014, the relative abundance of oligochaetes and chironomids increased 32- and 78-fold, respectively. The shifts we report probably are attributable to nutrient enrichment of the nearshore of Lake Ontario during the 1990s leading to a thick carpet of macroalgae, a change in the base of the benthic food web from dressenid feces and pseudofeces to macroalgal detritus, and predation by N. melanostomus on snails.