Fish diversity in Ontario lakes

April 5, 2018

Lake in Algonquin Park taken by Aleksandra Dolezal 

A recent study published in Nature Communications examined factors that could be influencing the diversity of fish species in over 700 Ontario lakes.  One of the main findings was that predatory fish and their prey fish species are able to co-exist and rarely "forbid" one another from lakes. In other words, the pressure of predation is not usually sufficient to eliminate or exclude another species of fish from a lake. 

Abiotic (or non-living) lake factors such as latitude, lake area and depth, water chemistry, food web complexity, and especially, measures of climate, were typically highly influential in shaping fish species diversity.  These factors affect species diversity directly and also indirectly by influencing the outcome of interactions between predators and their prey.

This study lends clarity to the rich and complex relationships occurring in nature that are shaping the diversity of species we can observe around us today.

Read more on the paper as well as an interview with the lead author, Dr. Andrew MacDougall, and one of the co-authors, Dr. Kevin McCann.

Reference:  A. S. MacDougall et al. (2018) Context-dependent interactions and the regulation of species richness in freshwater fish. Nature Communications, 9:1-9.