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Erik Jeppesen

Recent invasion by a non-native cyprinid (common bream Abramis brama) is followed by major changes in the ecological quality of a shallow lake in southern Europe

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  • P. Volta, CNR-ISE Institute of Ecosystem Study
  • ,
  • E. Jeppesen
  • B. Leoni, Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca
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  • B. Campi, CNR-ISE Institute of Ecosystem Study
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  • P. Sala, CNR-ISE Institute of Ecosystem Study
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  • L. Garibaldi, Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca
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  • T.L. Lauridsen
  • I.J. Winfield, Lancaster Environment Centre
We present an example of how an invasion by a non-native cyprinid (common bream, Abramis brama (Pisces: Cyprinidae), hereafter bream) in a natural shallow lake in southern Europe (Lake Montorfano, northern Italy) may have adversely affected the state of the lake's ecosystem. In less than two decades, bream became the most abundant species and characterized by a stunted population with asymptotic length 33.5 cm, an estimated mean length at first maturity of 19.6 cm, a total mortality rate of 0.64 year and a diet overwhelmingly dominated by microcrustaceans. Following bream establishment, nutrients and phytoplankton biomass rose, the proportion of Cyanobacteria by numbers increased markedly and water transparency decreased. Total zooplankton abundance increased with a marked increase in small cladocerans and copepods, whereas the abundance of large herbivorous cladocerans did not change. The coverage of submerged macrophytes declined, as did the abundance of native pelagic zooplanktivorous fish. The composition of the fish community shifted towards a higher proportion of zoobenthivorous species, such as bream and pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus). Our results indicate that bream affected water quality through bottom-up mechanisms, while top-down effects were comparatively weak. Selective removal of bream and perhaps stocking of native piscivores might improve the ecological status of the lake.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Invasions
Pages (from-to)2065-2079
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013

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