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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Top-down effects of filter-feeding fish and bivalves moderate bottom-up effects of nutrients on phytoplankton in subtropical shallow lakes: An outdoor mesocosm study

Zhang, You; Shen, Ruijie; Li, Kuanyi; Li, Qisheng; Chen, Huihui; He, Hu; Gu, Xiaohong; Mao, Zhigang; Johnson, Richard K.


Biomanipulation has been widely used in the ecological restoration of eutrophic lakes for decades. However, biomanipulation is prone to failure if external nutrient loads are not reduced. In order to explore the importance of filter-feeding fish and bivalves on algal control, an outdoor mesocosm experiment was conducted using different nutrient concentrations. Four treatments simulating daily loads of nutrients in Lake Taihu were studied: current, two times, and three times average daily loads of nutrients with both fish (Aristichthys nobilis) and Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea) and as a control current daily loads without fish or bivalves. Results showed that stocking of filter-feeding fish and bivalves (80 g m-3 bighead carp; 200 g cm-2 clams) at two times daily nutrient loads could effectively control water column Chl a concentrations and phytoplankton biomass. At higher nutrient concentrations (TN & GE; 260 & mu;g L-1 d-1; TP & GE; 10 & mu;g L-1 d-1), top-down control of filter-feeding fish and bivalves was less effective and bottom-up effects resulted in significant increases of Chl a concentration. Thus, as phytoplankton biomass in freshwater ecosystems is determined by both the top-down effects of predators and the bottom-up effects of nutrients, external loadings should be controlled when filter-feeding fish and bivalves are used for algal control to ensure the efficacy of biomanipulation.A combination of filter-feeding fish and clams suppressed phytoplankton, which could not be affected by low-level nutrients.Bottom-up effects at high-level nutrients on phytoplankton overcome top-down effects, indicating that nutrient levels should be controlled to optimize the effect of the intervention.image


algae control; biomanipulation; eutrophication; food web; lake restoration

Published in

Ecology and Evolution
2023, Volume: 13, number: 9, article number: e10567
Publisher: WILEY