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Functional consumers regulate the effect of availability of subsidy on trophic cascades in the Yellow River Delta, China

Yan, Jiaguo, Cui, Baoshan, Huang, Honghui, O'Flynn, Sarah, Bai, Junhong, Ysebaert, Tom
Marine pollution bulletin 2019 v.140 pp. 157-164
algae, biocenosis, detritus, ecosystems, fish, food webs, foraging, leaves, macroinvertebrates, predators, river deltas, water pollution, China, Yellow River
Understanding the environmental context where heterogeneous ecological processes affect biotic interactions is a key aim of ecological research. However, mechanisms underlying spatial variation in trophic interactions linked to resource availability across ecosystem gradients remains unclear. We experimentally manipulated the interactive effects of predator fish and quantitative gradient of leaf detritus on macroinvertebrates and benthic algae. We found that non-linear changes in the strength of trophic cascades were strongly linked to the retention rates of experimental leaf detritus and also determined by predatory consumers. Retention rate of leaf detritus influenced the recruitment of predatory invertebrates and foraging preference of predators, accounting for largely the variations in shift of strengthening and weakening trophic cascades. Our results highlight the importance to identify joint processes of recruitment and foraging responses of functional consumer in understanding the impacts of both anthropogenic and natural alterations in subsidy on trophic interaction of coastal food webs.