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High Mountain Conservation in a Changing World

August 11, 2017

Over time, the P³ blog will not only give reports on sampling, but will also take up important aspects of mountain research and conservation. In this respect this blog entry introduces you to a new book from our colleague Jordi Catalan.

 

The book provides case studies and general views of the main processes involved in the ecosystem shifts occurring in the high mountains and analyses the implications for nature conservation. Case studies from the Pyrenees are preponderant, with a comprehensive set of mountain ranges surrounded by highly populated lowland areas also being considered.

 

There is also one particular chapter, which needs attention: Why Should We Preserve Fishless High Mountain Lakes? From Mark Ventura and others." Predation on native fauna by introduced fish involves profound ecological changes since fish occupy a higher trophic level that was previously inexistent. Fish predation produces a drastic reduction or elimination of autochthonous animal groups, such as amphibians and large macroinvertebrates in the littoral, and crustaceans in the plankton. These strong effects raise concerns for the conservation of high mountain lakes. "

 

 Figure from publication: Stocking fishes into originally fishless high mountain lakes results in a series of effects that cascade through the food web: (a) direct predation can affect large planktonic crustaceans and produce indirect top-down and cascading effects altering the communities and biomasses of small zooplankton species and phytoplankton (Knapp et al. 2001b; Sarnelle and Knapp 2005; Tiberti et al. 2014b); (b) nektonic and (c) benthonic macroinvertebrates often undergo local extinction after fish introduction, while (d) fossorial macroinvertebrates are usually unaffected or indirectly favoured by introduced fish (Knapp et al. 2001b; Tiberti et al. 2014b); (e) fish introduction is often a factor of ecological exclusion for amphibians (Bradford et al. 1993; Vredenburg 2004; Tiberti and von Hardenberg 2012; Knapp et al. 2016); (f) introduced fish can alter the aquatic nutrient subsidy (in the form of emerging insects and amphibians) entering the terrestrial environment (Pope et al. 2009; Tiberti et al. 2016b) and indirectly affect (g) terrestrial predators, such as birds, reptiles, amphibians, spiders and bats (Matthews et al. 2002; Finlay and Vredenburg 2007; Epanchin et al. 2010; Benjamin et al. 2011; Joseph et al. 2011; Gruenstein 2014); (h) salmonid species are usually introduced in high mountain lakes to sustain recreational angling (Bahls 1992; Miró and Ventura 2013); (k) small fish species, such as Phoxinus sp., are used as live baits by anglers and often released in high mountain lakes with overlooked, but probably important additive and interactive ecological impacts (Miró and Ventura 2015)

 

Find the chapter and the book here:

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-55982-7_8

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