Grazing resistance allows bloom formation and may explain invasion success of Gonyostomum semen

Karen Lebret, María Fernández Fernández, Camilla H. C. Hagman, Karin Rengefors and Lars-Anders Hansson

Limnol. Oceanogr., 57(3), 2012, 727-734 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2012.57.3.0727

ABSTRACT: The nuisance alga Gonyostomum semen (Raphidophyceae) has expanded in the Nordic countries during the last decades and can dominate lake phytoplankton communities almost completely. A possible explanation to its dominance could be limited grazing by zooplankton. We investigated the potential grazing pressure on G. semen using an experimental approach supported by field data. We determined the grazing rate by cladocerans, calanoid copepods, and Chaoborus larvae to determine which were able to feed on G. semen. Only the large cladoceran Daphnia magna was able to feed successfully on G. semen. The large cell size of G. semen was likely a limiting factor for the filtering apparatus of smaller cladocerans. The copepod Eudiaptomus gracilis did not graze on G. semen, although the mechanism behind this selective feeding is still unknown. In addition to the experimental study, we quantified the zooplankton and phytoplankton communities in 40 lakes to determine the composition and abundance of the zooplankton communities co-occurring with G. semen, suggesting that large cladoceran species were not present in lakes where G. semen occurred. Hence, the growth of G. semen is not significantly controlled by grazing in natural systems, which likely facilitates bloom formation and invasion success of G. semen.

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