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Fish predation affects invertebrate community structure of tropical temporary ponds, with downstream effects on phytoplankton that are obscured by pesticide pollution

Kafula, Yusuph A.; Mataba, Gordian R.; Mwaijengo, Grite N.; Moyo, Francis; Munishi, Linus K.; Vanschoenwinkel, Bram; Brendonck, Luc; Thore, Eli S. J.


Aquatic biota of tropical temporary ponds typically experience a wide range of stressors that can drive the structure and dynamics of natural communities. Particularly in regions with intense agricultural activity, aquatic biota may not only experience predation pressure but also stress from pesticides that inadvertently enter the ponds. We increasingly understand how these different sources of stress affect classic model taxa under controlled laboratory conditions, but how predators and pesticides may jointly affect pond invertebrate communities is still unclear, particularly for tropical systems. Here, we conducted an outdoor mesocosm experiment to study how fish predation combined with exposure to an environmentally relevant concentration of the commonly used insecticide cypermethrin (0.8 ng/L) affects the structure of invertebrate communities, and its potential effects on leaf litter decomposition and invertebrate grazing efficiency as measures of ecosystem functioning. A total of seven invertebrate taxa were recorded in the mesocosm communities. Fish predation effectively lowered the number of invertebrate taxa, with fish mesocosms being dominated by high densities of rotifers, associated with lower phytoplankton levels, but only when communities were not simultaneously exposed to cypermethrin. In contrast, cypermethrin exposure did not affect invertebrate community structure, and neither fish predation nor cypermethrin exposure affected our measures of ecosystem functioning. These findings suggest that predation by killifish can strongly affect invertebrate community structure of tropical temporary ponds, and that downstream effects on phytoplankton biomass can be mediated by exposure to cypermethrin. More broadly, we contend that a deeper understanding of (tropical) temporary pond ecology is necessary to effectively manage these increasingly polluted systems.


Insecticide; Nothobranchius; Killifish; Ecotoxicology; Mixed stressors

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Environmental Pollution
2024, Volym: 346, artikelnummer: 123592

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