Research Webinar: Eating, moving, and eating again: considering cross-habitat connectivity and fish movement improves our understanding of Lake Champlain food webs

Across all ecosystems, consumers can move energy and nutrients across space; that fish you catch in your favorite spot could have visited 20+ favorite spots that day. By eating in one location, moving somewhere else, and eating again, or by being eaten themselves, consumers link habitats that otherwise might be thought of as distinct, separate ecosystems. In this presentation, Lesser discusses current preliminary work from the Rubenstein Lab, demonstrating how applying concepts of cross-habitat connectivity from completely different ecosystems can greatly enhance our understanding of the rules and drivers of fish production in Lake Champlain. The frameworks he utilized highlight consequences for lake food web productivity under projected climate change in the Lake Champlain basin and reveal new implications for projected ecosystem change in the face of imminent invaders.

Justin Lesser is a food web ecologist that is interested in how ecosystems that are typically thought of as distinct are connected by animal-mediated processes. He has worked in a variety of systems including coral reefs, seagrasses, and saltmarshes, and brings a unique perspective to Lake Champlain. He did his PhD at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is a member of research a group at Florida International University, and is associated with the NSF-funded Florida Everglades LTER and Plum Island LTER (Long-Term Ecological Research) sites. This year and beyond, he will be continuing work on a food web model of Lake Champlain to better understand the impact imminent invaders will have on the Lake, and will be starting a novel study comparing winter vs summer food web connectivity within Lake Champlain and between Lake Champlain and other lakes (George, Memphremagog).