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Rotifer communities under variable predation-turbulence combinations

Horppila, Jukka, Härkönen, Laura, Hellén, Noora, Estlander, Satu, Pekcan-Hekim, Zeynep, Ojala, Anne
Hydrobiologia 2019 v.828 no.1 pp. 339-351
Chaoborus, Cladocera, Rotifera, aquatic ecosystems, invertebrates, larvae, predation, predator-prey relationships, predators, turbulent flow
The effects of water turbulence on rotifer communities were experimentally studied under different predation pressures. When the larvae of the phantom midge (Chaoborus flavicans) were present in turbulent water, the abundance of most rotifer taxa was enhanced. Especially the genera Chromogaster, Keratella, Polyarthra, and Trichocerca, increased in abundance. In calm water, chaoborids did not affect the rotifer community. In turbulent water predation by chaoborids was targeted more towards cladocerans (Bosmina sp.) and predation pressure on rotifers was relaxed. Additionally, reduced competition with cladocerans probably contributed to the increase of rotifer abundance. Turbulence alone had no significant effect on rotifer abundance because their individual size was small compared with the diameter of the turbulent eddies. The study suggested that the effects of turbulence on rotifers is not direct but takes place through changed predator–prey relations, i.e., the effect depends on the abundance of invertebrate predators. In aquatic ecosystems with a high density of chaoborids, increasing turbulence can considerably increase the abundance of rotifers.