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Intra- and interspecific niche variation as reconstructed from stable isotopes in two ecologically different Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes [Functional Ecology]

Keywords : community-wide metrics, lake productivity, mixing models, species sorting, species turnover

par Frédéric Magné - publié le , mis à jour le

1.The concept of species niches has enhanced our understanding of community assembly and food web structure in a variety of ecosystem types. Niche-based species sorting profoundly determines community composition along strong environmental gradients, while interspecific interactions tend to be more important within habitats at local spatial scales. The role of intraspecific niche variation in community assembly and ecosystem functioning has only recently been highlighted.
2.The present study undertakes a quantitative comparison of the trophic structure of fish communities in two iconic Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes, Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo, which are biodiversity hotspots with high societal importance. The lakes differ strongly in ecology : whereas Lake Abaya is turbid due to a very high sediment loading, Lake Chamo is a clear-water lake, which in recent years is, however, rapidly becoming more turbid. Using stable isotopes, we compare the structure of the food web in both lakes, and investigate the degree to which differences in trophic structure between the two lakes are mediated by changes in species composition with fixed within-species niches or rather by flexibility in food acquisition within species.(...)

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