Influence of hydrophyte abundance on the spatial distribution of zooplankton in selected lakes in Greece
- ISSN: 00188158
- DOI: 10.1007/s10750-010-0435-0
Submerged hydrophyte vegetation consists of a highly important biotic component of maintaining lake ecosystems towards a clear water ecological status. Aquatic macrophytes are well known to play a significant multidimensional role in lakes by competing with phytoplankton growth, stabilising sediment and offering refuge to fishes, macro-invertebrates and littoral zooplankton, amongst others. Zooplanktons that are associated with macrophyte beds, in particular, may act as a positive feedback mechanism that contributes to maintaining a clear-water state. Although there are several studies investigating the relationships between macrophytes and zooplankton in European lakes, few have yet been carried out in Greek lakes. Seasonal field sampling was conducted from spring 2006 to autumn 2008 in four lakes of northwestern Greece. Zooplankton samples were collected from within hydrophyte beds in each lake to estimate their relative abundance and species density. Hydrophyte abundance and composition was recorded on a five-point scale. Moreover, water samples were analysed to determine nutrient and chlorophyll-a concentration. Pearson correlations between zooplankton density and key physicochemical variables were conducted to distinguish significant abiotic variables related with major zooplankton groups. KruskalWallis non-parametric analysis was used to test for significant differences in zooplankton composition and environmental variables amongst the five hydrophyte abundance classes. In addition, Canonical correspondence analysis was used to distinguish possible correlations amongst the macrophyte and zooplankton species. Zooplankton density was significantly higher in dense macrophyte vegetation. Small-sized species (e.g. Rotifera) dominated the zooplankton community, indicating the eutrophic nature of the lakes. Large Cladocera were present in low abundance and were mostly littoral. The current research contributes to a better understanding of relationships between biotic groups in selected Greek lakes.