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Effects of invasive fish and quality of water and sediment on macrophytes biomass, and their consequences for the waterbird community of a Mediterranean floodplain

AutorLaguna, Celia; López-Perea, Jhon J.; Viñuela, Javier ; Florín, Máximo; Feliú, Jordi; Chicote, Álvaro; Cirujano, Santos ; Mateo, Rafael
Palabras claveWater and sediment quality
Mediterranean floodplain
Invasive fish
Fecha de publicación2016
CitaciónScience of the Total Environment 551-552: 513-521 (2016)
ResumenFloodplains are among the most threatened ecosystems world-wide because of multiple stressors, i.e., invasive species, pollution and aquifer overexploitation; the Tablas de Daimiel National Park (Spain) is a clear example of these kinds of impact. This work aims to test whether invasive fish and/or the water and sediment quality are significant drivers of the decline of stonewort (Chara spp.) meadows in the Tablas de Daimiel, investigating how this could explain changes observed in the waterbird community. Bird surveys performed monthly between June 2010 and April 2014 have shown that herbivorous species like the red-crested pochard (Netta rufina) reached historical records between September 2010 and June 2011, but have decreased since then. Piscivorous waterbirds like the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) and herons increased in population after 2011, however. These changes may be due to the decline of Chara spp. meadows, connected to overexploitation by herbivores, or to changes in water and sediment quality. To test this hypothesis, we studied the growth of Chara spp. biomass in ten sites of the Tablas de Daimiel, where experimental exclosures were set up to exclude herbivory by birds, and bioturbation and herbivory by fish. Our results have shown that the absence of Chara spp. in the Tablas de Daimiel is mostly explained by presence of invasive fish (i.e. common carp). Moreover, the physicochemical characteristics of the water (lower values of conductivity and higher values of inorganic carbon and organic nitrogen), as well as of the sediment (lower values of inorganic and organic phosphorus), favour the increase of Chara spp., in the absence of the fish effect. These results led the National Park managers to begin the control of invasive fish as an urgent measure to assure the ecological conservation of this Mediterranean wetland.
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.059
e-issn: 1879-1026
issn: 0048-9697
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