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Aquatic Biology

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AB 12:1-11 (2011)  -  DOI:

Benthic macroinvertebrate and fish communities in Lake Huron are linked to submerged groundwater vents

T. Garrison Sanders Jr.1,4,*, Bopaiah A. Biddanda1, Craig A. Stricker2, Stephen C. Nold3

1Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State University, 740 W. Shoreline Drive, Muskegon, Michigan 49441, USA
2USGS Stable Isotope Laboratory, DFC, Building 21, MS 963, Denver, Colorado 80225, USA
3University of Wisconsin-Stout, Department of Biology, 213 Jarvis Hall, Science Wing, Menomonie, Wisconsin 54751, USA
4Present address: Crooked River Watershed Council, 498 SE Lynn Blvd, Prineville, Oregon 97754, USA

ABSTRACT: Groundwater can be an important source of nutrients and energy to aquatic ecosystems, but quantifying the inputs and biogeochemical importance remains challenging. A series of submerged groundwater vents in northern Lake Huron were examined to determine the linkage between groundwater nutrients and aquatic food webs. We collected samples of key food-web components from groundwater vent and reference habitats and analyzed them for 13C, 15N, and 34S isotopes. Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in the groundwater was depleted in 13C, while aqueous sulfate was enriched in 34S (mean differences between groundwater and reference sites were –3.9‰ and +12.0‰, respectively). Benthic primary producers, macroinvertebrates, and benthivorous fish had significantly lower δ13C values in groundwater environments, and benthivorous fish were somewhat depleted (–2.5‰) in δ34S at groundwater sites compared to reference sites. However, δ15N values were not different between groundwater and reference sites, and pelagic components of the ecosystems (plankton and planktivorous and piscivorous fish) were similar in both δ13C and δ15N. These data suggest benthic metazoan communities surrounding groundwater vents are partially linked to groundwater-derived benthic primary production, while planktivorous and piscivorous communities not directly associated with the benthos do not rely on groundwater nutrients.

KEY WORDS: Stable isotopes · Submerged sinkholes · Groundwater · Food web · Lake Huron

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Cite this article as: Sanders TG Jr, Biddanda BA, Stricker CA, Nold SC (2011) Benthic macroinvertebrate and fish communities in Lake Huron are linked to submerged groundwater vents. Aquat Biol 12:1-11.

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