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Diversity and structure of the winter rotifer assemblage in a shallow eutrophic northern temperate Lake Võrtsjärv

Virro, Taavi, Haberman, Juta, Haldna, Marina, Blank, Kätlin
Aquatic ecology 2009 v.43 no.3 pp. 755-764
Rotifera, autumn, birds of prey, community structure, environmental factors, lakes, niches, spring, winter, Estonia
In the eutrophic Lake Võrtsjärv (Central Estonia, area 270 km², mean depth 2.8 m) rotifers form ca. 90% of total abundance and 80% of biomass in winter zooplankton community. The winter rotifer assemblage was dominated by Polyarthra dolichoptera, both in abundance and in biomass. Synchaeta verrucosa and Keratella quadrata were the sub-dominants. Thus, winter rotifer community had low diversity and high dominance of a few species. This pattern probably refers to the period of extreme environmental conditions where the rotifer assemblage is composed of few well-adapted species, and the low diversity here was not indicating instability of community structure, but the scarcity of suitable niches. These community structure indices indicate that the winter rotifer assemblage of L. Võrtsjärv was very similar to autumn assemblage, but very different from the spring one. In winter, small raptors were the most important functional group. The second place is occupied by larger raptors. Marginal role of fine particle sedimentators, absence of suckers and high proportion of large raptors were contrasting features of the winter trophic structure in comparison with the other seasons. Changes have taken place in the winter rotifer assemblage in L. Võrtsjärv in 1990-2007. Against the background of diminishing rotifer abundance, the dominant species has become even more prevalent, and the diversity of the winter rotifer assemblage has decreased. Shifts in the community trophic structure were also observed.