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Platypus predation has differential effects on aquatic invertebrates in contrasting stream and lake ecosystems


McLachlan-Troup, TA and Nicol, SC and Dickman, CR, Platypus predation has differential effects on aquatic invertebrates in contrasting stream and lake ecosystems, Scientific Reports, 10 Article 13043. ISSN 2045-2322 (2020) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright 2020 the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-020-69957-1


Predators can have strong impacts on prey populations, with cascading effects on lower trophic levels. Although such effects are well known in aquatic ecosystems, few studies have explored the influence of predatory aquatic mammals, or whether the same predator has similar effects in contrasting systems. We investigated the effects of platypus (Monotremata: Ornithorhynchus anatinus) on its benthic invertebrate prey, and tested predictions that this voracious forager would more strongly affect invertebrates - and indirectly, epilithic algae - in a mesotrophic lake than in a dynamic stream ecosystem. Hypotheses were tested using novel manipulative experiments involving platypus-exclusion cages. Platypuses had strongly suppressive effects on invertebrate prey populations, especially detritivores and omnivores, but weaker or inconsistent effects on invertebrate taxon richness and composition. Contrary to expectation, predation effects were stronger in the stream than the lake; no effects were found on algae in either ecosystem due to weak effects of platypuses on herbivorous invertebrates. Platypuses did not cause redistribution of sediment via their foraging activities. Platypuses can clearly have both strong and subtle effects on aquatic food webs that may vary widely between ecosystems and locations, but further research is needed to replicate our experiments and understand the contextual drivers of this variation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Ornithorhynchus, platypus, monotremata, predation, benthic invertebrates, aquatic food webs, aquatic ecosystems
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Freshwater ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of freshwater ecosystems
UTAS Author:Nicol, SC (Associate Professor Stewart Nicol)
ID Code:152575
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Research Performance and Analysis
Deposited On:2022-08-22
Last Modified:2022-09-20

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