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Journal Article

Invasive aquarium fish transform ecosystem nutrient dynamics

Krista A. Capps and Alexander S. Flecker
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 280, No. 1769 (22 October 2013), pp. 1-7
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43601560
Page Count: 7
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Abstract

Trade of ornamental aquatic species is a multi-billion dollar industry responsible for the introduction of myriad fishes into novel ecosystems. Although aquarium invaders have the potential to alter ecosystem function, regulation of the trade is minimal and little is known about the ecosystem-level consequences of invasion for all but a small number of aquarium species. Here, we demonstrate how ecological stoichiometry can be used as a framework to identify aquarium invaders with the potential to modify ecosystem processes. We show that explosive growth of an introduced population of stoichiometrically unique, phosphorus (P)-rich catfish in a river in southern Mexico significantly transformed stream nutrient dynamics by altering nutrient storage and remineralization rates. Notably, changes varied between elements; the P-rich fish acted as net sinks of P and net remineralizers of nitrogen. Results from this study suggest species-specific stoichiometry may be insightful for understanding how invasive species modify nutrient dynamics when their population densities and elemental composition differ substantially from native organisms. Risk analysis for potential aquarium imports should consider species traits such as body stoichiometry, which may increase the likelihood that an invasion will alter the structure and function of ecosystems.

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