Increased temperature effects on fish-mediated nutrient cycling in an East Texas stream



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The unprecedented rate of global warming is an inevitable outcome of anthropogenic CO2 release into the atmosphere and complex climatic feedbacks. In ectotherms, increasing temperature may increase metabolic rates, which could enhance the energy demands of individuals and should accelerate resource acquisition. Population size and fish biomass were measured seasonally in a small second order stream over a 10-year period to examine seasonal variation in these parameters. I examined effects of increased temperature on nitrogen and phosphorus excretion in the four most abundant fish in this stream system. These fishes represent three functional feeding guilds common to many temperate stream ecosystems and comprise approximately 80-90% of the fish community. I developed temperature dependent nitrogen and phosphorus excretion models for fishes and applied these models to daily average temperatures in the stream. I then simulated climate warming (+2, +4, & +6°C) to examine the potential effects of increased temperature on fish-mediated nutrient dynamics in a southern temperate stream ecosystem. I found that increased temperature does increase nutrient cycling and nutrient flux within aquatic ecosystems; however, these effects appear to be tied to population size, biomass in addition to seasonal temperature. With increased temperature effects in spring and autumn having the greatest effect, when temperatures are cool and fish abundance and biomass is also greatest.



Global warming, Nutrient cycling, Metabolism, Temperature, Excretion, Fish, Nitrogen, Phosphorus