Effects of anthropogenic nitrogen input on the aquatic food webs of river ecosystem in central Japan

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Nobuhito Ohte1, Hiroyuki Togashi2, Naoko Tokuchi3, Mayumi Yoshimura4, Yoshikazu Kato5, Naoto F Ishikawa6, Ken'ichi Osaka7, Michio Kondo8 and Ichiro Tayasu5, (1)University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Japan, (2)Fisheries Research Agency, Tohoku National Fisheries Research Institute, Shiogama, Japan, (3)Kyoto University, Field Science Education Research Center, Kyoto, Japan, (4)Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Kansai Research Center, Kyoto, Japan, (5)Kyoto University, Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto, Japan, (6)JAMSTEC Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Kanagawa, Japan, (7)University of Shiga Prefec, Hikone, Japan, (8)Ryukoku University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Otsu, Japan
To evaluate the impact of the anthropogenic nitrogen input to the river ecosystem, we conducted the monitoring on nutrient status of river waters and food web structures of aquatic organisms. Especially, changes of sources and concentration of nitrate (NO3-) in river water were focused to evaluate the impact of anthropogenic nitrogen loadings from agricultural and residential areas. Stable nitrogen isotope ratio (δ15N) of aquatic organisms has also intensively been monitored not only to describe their food web structure, but also to detect the influences of extraneous nitrogen inputs. Field samplings an observation campaigns were conducted in the Arida river watershed located in central part of Japan at four different seasons from September 2011 to October 2012. Five observation points were set from headwaters to the point just above the brackish waters starts. Water samples for chemical analysis were taken at the observation points for each campaign. Organisms including leaf litters, benthic algae, aquatic insects, crustacean, and fishes were sampled at each point quantitatively.

Results of the riverine survey utilizing 5 regular sampling points showed that δ15N of nitrate (NO3-) increased from forested upstream (˜2 ) to the downstream (˜7 ) due to the sewage loads and fertilizer effluents from agricultural area. Correspondingly the δ15N of benthic algae and aquatic insects increased toward the downstream. This indicates that primary producers of each reach strongly relied on the local N sources and it was utilized effectively in their food web. Simulation using a GIS based mixing model considering the spatial distributions of human population density and fertilizer effluents revealed that strongest impacts of N inputs was originated from organic fertilizers applied to orchards in the middle to lower parts of catchment. Differences in δ15N between primary producers and predators were 6-7 similarly at all sampling points. Food web structural analysis using food network unfolding technique based on observed δ15N suggested that the structure of nutrient pyramid did not differ significantly along the riverine positions, while the members of species in each trophic revel changed and the impact of anthropogenic N input was visible along the river.