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Planktivory by the predacious cladoceran Bythotrephes longimanus: effects on zooplankton size structure and abundance

Wahlström, Eva, Westman, Erika
Canadian journal of fisheries and aquatic sciences 1999 v.56 no.10 pp. 1865-1872
Bythotrephes longimanus, Rotifera, biomass, fish, invertebrates, lakes, phytoplankton, planktivores, predation, zooplankton
In order to study density-dependent effects of invertebrate planktivory, four different densities of Bythotrephes longimanus were inoculated into mesocosm enclosures with a mixed zooplankton community. Changes in size structure and abundance of zooplankton and phytoplankton communities were recorded over a period of 3 weeks. High densities of Bythotrephes were able to reduce total zooplankton abundance, which was mainly due to a decrease in the density of the relatively large species Holopedium gibberum. The density of the smaller species Bosmina longirostris was also reduced with increasing densities of Bythotrephes, whereas rotifer abundance remained largely unaffected. The mean size of Holopedium increased with increasing densities of Bythotrephes. Despite the decrease in total zooplankton biomass in high-Bythotrephes treatments, no effect of Bythotrephes density on primary producers was observed. Our experiment shows that predacious cladocerans may reduce macrozooplankton biomass, large as well as small species. Predation from invertebrate planktivores results in a zooplankton community consisting of larger individuals. Comparing our experimental densities with densities of Bythotrephes found in natural systems suggests that invertebrate planktivores may influence size structure and abundance of zooplankton communities even in lakes with planktivorous fish.