We tested the hypothesis that allochthonous carbon is important in the diet of the endemic pupfish Cyprinodon diabolis over a 3-year period in Devils Hole, Nevada. Devils Hole is a cavernous limnocrene located in the Mojave Desert approximately 15 m below the land surface and receives direct solar radiation <7% of the total time during the year. The system is dominated by filamentous cyanobacteria in the summer and supports about 15 invertebrate species and the endemic pupfish C. diabolis. We examined food web structure and measured autochthonous carbon production and entry of allochthonous carbon with funnel traps. Stable isotopes were used to compare contributions of each carbon source. Allochthonous carbon contributed 2971 kj · yr−1 (60%) of the total available energy to the food web compared to only 2000 kj · yr−1 autochthonous production. A major stochastic rain event delivered more terrestrial carbon to Devils Hole in 1 hour than annual allochthonous carbon, estimated from data collected with funnel traps. Mixing models with δ15N, δ13C, and δ34S showed a seasonal shift in diet for C. diabolis from filamentous cyanobacteria in the summer to the collector/gathering insect Stenelmis calida in the winter. Stenelmis tissue had high proportions of allochthonous plant carbon in the winter.
Wilson, Kevin P. and Blinn, Dean W.
"Food web structure, energetics, and importance of allochthonous carbon in a desert cavernous limnocrene: Devils Hole, Nevada,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 67
, Article 2.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol67/iss2/2