Common carp disrupt ecosystem structure and function through middle-out effects

Marine and Freshwater Research
By: , and 



Middle-out effects or a combination of top-down and bottom-up processes create many theoretical and empirical challenges in the realm of trophic ecology. We propose using specific autecology or species trait (i.e. behavioural) information to help explain and understand trophic dynamics that may involve complicated and non-unidirectional trophic interactions. The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) served as our model species for whole-lake observational and experimental studies; four trophic levels were measured to assess common carp-mediated middle-out effects across multiple lakes. We hypothesised that common carp could influence aquatic ecosystems through multiple pathways (i.e. abiotic and biotic foraging, early life feeding, nutrient). Both studies revealed most trophic levels were affected by common carp, highlighting strong middle-out effects likely caused by common carp foraging activities and abiotic influence (i.e. sediment resuspension). The loss of water transparency, submersed vegetation and a shift in zooplankton dynamics were the strongest effects. Trophic levels furthest from direct pathway effects were also affected (fish life history traits). The present study demonstrates that common carp can exert substantial effects on ecosystem structure and function. Species capable of middle-out effects can greatly modify communities through a variety of available pathways and are not confined to traditional top-down or bottom-up processes.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Common carp disrupt ecosystem structure and function through middle-out effects
Series title Marine and Freshwater Research
DOI 10.1071/MF15068
Volume 68
Issue 4
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher CSIRO
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 14 p.
First page 718
Last page 731
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