Initial conditions mediate the interaction between Daphnia and bloom-forming cyanobacteria

Sarnelle, Orlando

Limnol. Oceanogr., 52(5), 2007, 2120-2127 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2007.52.5.2120

ABSTRACT: To assess whether Daphnia populations in eutrophic lakes can increase when bloom-forming cyanobacteria dominate the phytoplankton assemblage and whether such an increase can result in strong suppression of phytoplankton biomass, I created contrasting initial conditions (high Daphnia pulicaria, low cyanobacteria vs. low D. pulicaria, high cyanobacteria) via fish manipulation in large enclosures, then removed fish from some enclosures and subsequently monitored zooplankton and phytoplankton abundance for 48 days. After being released from fish predation, D. pulicaria was apparently able to reduce cyanobacteria and total phytoplankton biomass to very low levels despite the fact that the phytoplankton assemblage was initially composed of about 90% Microcystis aeruginosa, a species that has inhibited Daphnia growth and reproduction in many laboratory studies. Thus, it appears possible for Daphnia to graze down an established bloom of cyanobacteria. In contrast, in enclosures where fish were never present, M. aeruginosa was eventually able to increase from low levels despite initially high D. pulicaria biomass. As a result, the apparent effect of D. pulicaria on M. aeruginosa at the end of the experiment was very different across enclosures with different initial conditions.

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