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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2003

Gigantic cannibals driving a whole-lake trophic cascade

Persson L, De Roos AM, Claessen D, Bystrom P, Lovgren J, Sjogren S, Svanback R, Wahlstrom E, Westman E


Trophic cascades have been a central paradigm in explaining the structure of ecological communities but have been demonstrated mainly through comparative studies or experimental manipulations. In contrast, evidence for shifts in trophic cascades caused by intrinsically driven population dynamics is meager. By using empirical data of a cannibalistic fish population covering a 10-year period and a size-structured population model, we show the occurrence of a dynamic trophic cascade in a lake ecosystem, in which the community overtime alternates between two different configurations. The intrinsically driven change in the size structure of the fish population from a dominance of stunted individuals to a dominance of gigantic cannibals among adult individuals is the driving force behind distinct abundance switches observed in zooplankton and phytoplankton. The presence of the phase with gigantic cannibals depends critically on the energy they extract from their victims, allowing strong reproduction for a number of years

Published in

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
2003, Volume: 100, number: 7, pages: 4035-4039

      SLU Authors

    • Byström, Pär

      • Department of Aquaculture, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Fish and Aquacultural Science

    Publication Identifiers


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