Zooplankton community response to enhanced turbulence generated by water-level decrease in Lake Balaton, the largest shallow lake in Central Europe

László G.-Tóth, Laura Parpala, Csilla Balogh, István Tátrai and Eszter Baranyai

Limnol. Oceanogr., 56(6), 2011, 2211-2222 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2011.56.6.2211

ABSTRACT: During the unusually long European drought between 2000 and 2003, the water level of the large and shallow Lake Balaton, Hungary (area = 596 km2, mean depth = 3.25 m), decreased by 28%. Although food availability for zooplankton remained unchanged, and the fish stock declined more than the water mass, the density of populations of several planktonic rotifers, cladocerans, calanoid copepodes, and veligers decreased by 60-90% simultaneously with the water-level decrease and regenerated only after the drought. The generally strong turbulence of the lake was intensified during the four consecutive years of low water, as verified by instrumental monitoring of the turbulence intensity and by the estimation of the turbulent kinetic-energy dissipation rate. In our tank experiments, turbulence conditions similar to those that existed in the lake during low water were simulated, but mineral suspended material was minimized and food was regularly resupplied. Under these experimental conditions, zooplankton taxa showing the highest mortality were the same as those that were most susceptible in situ. Increased turbulence coupled with the water-level decrease is especially unfavorable for rotifer Keratella, the cladoceran Daphnia, Bosmina, and copepodit and adult stages of the calanoid copepod Eudiaptomus gracilis in this lake.

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