Interactions between predation and resources shape zooplankton population dynamics

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Abstract

Identifying the relative importance of predation and resources in population dynamics has a long tradition in ecology, while interactions between them have been studied less intensively. In order to disentangle the effects of predation by juvenile fish, algal resource availability and their interactive effects on zooplankton population dynamics, we conducted an enclosure experiment where zooplankton were exposed to a gradient of predation of roach (Rutilus rutilus) at different algal concentrations. We show that zooplankton populations collapse under high predation pressure irrespective of resource availability, confirming that juvenile fish are able to severely reduce zooplankton prey when occurring in high densities. At lower predation pressure, however, the effect of predation depended on algal resource availability since high algal resource supply buffered against predation. Hence, we suggest that interactions between mass-hatching of fish, and the strong fluctuations in algal resources in spring have the potential to regulate zooplankton population dynamics. In a broader perspective, increasing spring temperatures due to global warming will most likely affect the timing of these processes and have consequences for the spring and summer zooplankton dynamics. © 2011 Nicolle et al.

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Nicolle, A., Hansson, L. A., Brodersen, J., Anders Nilsson, P., & Brönmark, C. (2011). Interactions between predation and resources shape zooplankton population dynamics. PLoS ONE, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0016534

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