Efficiencies of Benthic and Pelagic Trophic Pathways in a Subalpine Lake

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Although the study of lakes has traditionally focused on pelagic production pathways, recent stable isotope and diet evidence indicates that benthic algal production is an important contributor to fish production. This has led to the suggestion that energy may be more efficiently passed along benthic food chains relative to their pelagic counterparts. To test this idea, we combined stable isotope based assessments of energy flow pathways with estimates of pelagic- and benthic-based primary and secondary production in Castle Lake, California. Approximately 50% of whole-lake primary production and 30% of whole-lake secondary production occurred in benthic habitats. Stable carbon isotopes and dietary data indicated that fish were predominantly supported by benthic (63%) and terrestrial (24%) secondary production. Ecological efficiencies (algal production / invertebrate production) were low in Castle Lake (

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