Umatilla, OR, United States
Umatilla, OR, United States

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Weaver D.M.,University of Maine, United States | Coghlan S.M.,University of Maine, United States | Zydlewski J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Hogg R.S.,Umatilla Hatchery Monitoring and Evaluation | Canton M.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Hydrobiologia | Year: 2015

Anadromous fishes serve as vectors of marine-derived nutrients into freshwaters that are incorporated into aquatic and terrestrial food webs. Pacific salmonines Oncorhynchus spp. exemplify the importance of migratory fish as links between marine and freshwater systems; however, little attention has been given to sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus Linnaeus, 1758) in Atlantic coastal systems. A first step to understanding the role of sea lamprey in freshwater food webs is to characterize the composition and rate of nutrient inputs. We conducted laboratory and field studies characterizing the elemental composition and the decay rates and subsequent water enriching effects of sea lamprey carcasses. Proximate tissue analysis demonstrated lamprey carcass nitrogen:phosphorus ratios of 20.2:1 (±1.18 SE). In the laboratory, carcass decay resulted in liberation of phosphorus within 1 week and nitrogen within 3 weeks. Nutrient liberation was accelerated at higher temperatures. In a natural stream, carcass decomposition resulted in an exponential decline in biomass, and after 24 days, the proportion of initial biomass remaining was 27% (±3.0% SE). We provide quantitative results as to the temporal dynamics of sea lamprey carcass decomposition and subsequent nutrient liberation. These nutrient subsidies may arrive at a critical time to maximize enrichment of stream food webs. © 2015 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

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