Impact of fish predation on cladoceran body weight distribution and zooplankton grazing in lakes during winter

  • Jeppesen E
  • Jensen J
  • Søndergaard M
 et al. 
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1. It is well accepted that fish, if abundant, can have a major impact on the zooplankton community structure during summer, which, particularly in eutrophic lakes, may cascade to phytoplankton and ultimately influence water clarity. Fish predation affects mean size of cladocerans and the zooplankton grazing pressure on phytoplankton. Little is, however, known about the role of fish during winter. 2. We analysed data from 34 lakes studied for 820139 years divided into three seasons: summer, autumn/spring and winter, and four lake classes: all lakes, shallow lakes without submerged plants, shallow lakes with submerged plants and deep lakes. We recorded how body weight of Daphnia and then cladocerans varied among the three seasons. For all lake types there was a significant positive correlation in the mean body weight of Daphnia and all cladocerans between the different seasons, and only in lakes with macrophytes did the slope differ significantly from one (winter versus summer for Daphnia). 3. These results suggest that the fish predation pressure during autumn/spring and winter is as high as during summer, and maybe even higher during winter in macrophyte-rich lakes. It could be argued that the winter zooplankton community structure resembles that of the summer community because of low specimen turnover during winter mediated by low fecundity, which, in turn, reflects food shortage, low temperatures and low winter hatching from resting eggs. However, we found frequent major changes in mean body weight of Daphnia and cladocerans in three fish-biomanipulated lakes during the winter season. 4. The seasonal pattern of zooplankton : phytoplankton biomass ratio showed no correlation between summer and winter for shallow lakes with abundant vegetation or for deep lakes. For the shallow lakes, the ratio was substantially higher during summer than in winter and autumn/spring, suggesting a higher zooplankton grazing potential during summer, while the ratio was often higher in winter in deep lakes. Direct and indirect effects of macrophytes, and internal P loading and mixing, all varying over the season, might weaken the fish signal on this ratio. 5. Overall, our data indicate that release of fish predation may have strong cascading effects on zooplankton grazing on phytoplankton and water clarity in temperate, coastal situated eutrophic lakes, not only during summer but also during winter.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Community structure
  • Fish
  • Grazing
  • PEG
  • Winter
  • Zooplankton

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  • Martin SøndergaardAarhus Universitet Science and Technology

  • Erik Jeppesen

  • Jens Peder Jensen

  • Morten Fenger-GrØN

  • Mette E. Bramm

  • Kjeld Sandby

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