Macrophytes as refuge or risky area for zooplankton: A balance set by littoral predacious macroinvertebrates

  • Sagrario G
  • De Los Ángeles M
  • Balseiro E
 et al. 
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1. Zooplankton use macrophytes as day-time refuge areas when trying to escape from pelagic predators. But macrophytes can also host a diverse and abundant macroinverte- brate assemblage and zooplankton are also likely to face predacious macroinvertebrates once they enter the littoral zone. This study aimed to elucidate the role of macro- invertebrates in determining the refuge capacity of macrophytes. 2. We conducted a field enclosure experiment using plastic bags and complementary laboratory feeding trials to test how macroinvertebrates counteract the benefits to zooplankton of the macrophyte refuge. The field experiment consisted of three treatments with different macroinvertebrate assemblages: without predators (WP), low abundance and diversity (LAD) and high abundance and diversity of predators (HAD – which represents lake conditions). 3. Populations of Diaphanosoma brachyurum, Bosmina huaronensis and Moina micrura (Cladocera) and of both male and female Notodiaptomus incompositus (Copepoda, Calanoida) declined (by nearly 80%) in the presence of HAD in comparison to WP and LAD treatments. 4. Feeding trials revealed that Buenoa sp. (backswimmer), adults of Palaemonetes argentinus (grass shrimp) and Cyanallagma interruptum (damselfly) had a significant negative impact on cladocerans (D. brachyurum, B. huaronensis) and the calanoid copepod population (males, females and copepodites). These predators showed a strong predation effect ranging from 75% to 100% reductions of zooplankton populations. 5. The refuge effect offered by macrophytes to zooplankton depends on and is balanced by the predacious macroinvertebrate assemblage that plants host. The risk of confronting littoral predators is high and macroinvertebrate presence can turn the macrophytes into risky areas for zooplankton. Keywords: macroinvertebrates, m

Author-supplied keywords

  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Macrophytes
  • Predation
  • Refuge
  • Zooplankton

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  • esteban balseiroINIBIOMA, CONICET-Univ. Comahue

  • González Sagrario

  • María De Los Ángeles

  • Romina Ituarte

  • Eduardo Spivak

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