A food web modeling analysis of a Midwestern, USA eutrophic lake dominated by non-native Common Carp and Zebra Mussels

Ecological Modelling
By: , and 



Food web modeling is recognized as fundamental to understanding the complexities of aquatic systems. Ecopath is the most common mass-balance model used to represent food webs and quantify trophic interactions among groups. We constructed annual Ecopath models for four consecutive years during the first half-decade of a zebra mussel invasion in shallow, eutrophic Clear Lake, Iowa, USA, to evaluate changes in relative biomass and total system consumption among food web groups, evaluate food web impacts of non-native common carp and zebra mussels on food web groups, and to interpret food web impacts in light of on-going lake restoration. Total living biomass increased each year of the study; the majority of the increase due to a doubling in planktonic blue green algae, but several other taxa also increased including a more than two-order of magnitude increase in zebra mussels. Common carp accounted for the largest percentage of total fish biomass throughout the study even with on-going harvest. Chironomids, common carp, and zebra mussels were the top-three ranking consumer groups. Non-native common carp and zebra mussels accounted for an average of 42% of the total system consumption. Despite the relatively high biomass densities of common carp and zebra mussel, food web impacts was minimal due to excessive benthic and primary production in this eutrophic system. Consumption occurring via benthic pathways dominated system consumption in Clear Lake throughout our study, supporting the argument that benthic food webs are significant in shallow, eutrophic lake ecosystems and must be considered if ecosystem-level understanding is to be obtained.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A food web modeling analysis of a Midwestern, USA eutrophic lake dominated by non-native Common Carp and Zebra Mussels
Series title Ecological Modelling
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2015.05.016
Volume 312
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 15 p.
First page 26
Last page 40
Country United States
State Iowa
Other Geospatial Clear Lake
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details