Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Top Down Effect Of Turbidity Within Marine Ecosystems

Most studies on turbidity investigate freshwater ecosystems and few studies have focused on the impacts of turbidity on marine ecosystems. Eianne et al. (1999) showed that invertebrate planktivores (jellyfish) replaced planktivorous fish within Norwegian turbid fiords. This was likely to be because increased turbidity levels reduced the possibility of foraging in visually oriented fish, while tactile feeding in jellyfish allowed them to continue to feed under light-limited conditions. A reduction in fish populations was unlikely to be a result of a reduction in plankton abundance. In fiords where fish populations were reduced zooplankton were more numerous and grew to larger sizes. This confirms modeling and experimental studies which show that turbidity is likely to have a top down effect within marine ecosystems by reducing the ability of fish to feed visually and this in turn leads to changes in prey composition.

Eiane, K., Aksnes, D.L., Bagoien, E., & Kaartvedt, S. (1999). Fish or jellies - a question of visibility? Limnology and Oceangraphy, 44 (5), 1352-1357

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