Water-body size and location influence zooplankton diversity in freshwaters, but less is known about systematic variations in zooplankton community composition between natural and artificial waters on different continents. We used meta-analysis to assess how zooplankton in artificial water bodies across different biomes might differ from natural water bodies of similar size. Among 79 lakes, ponds and reservoirs (11 artificial and 68 natural), proximity to other water bodies apparently increased species richness in all lake types, probably reflecting dispersal. However, richness did not differ systematically between natural and artificial water bodies of comparable size. In contrast, community composition differed between artificial and natural waters after accounting for depth, productivity, longitude and conductivity, with models explaining up to 50% of the overall variance at genus level. Leptodiaptomus, Chydorus, Cyclops, Acanthocyclops, Skistodiaptomus, Epischura, Limnocalanus, Senecella, Heterocope, Arctodiaptomus and Aglaodiaptomus all occurred more frequently in natural waters, whilst Thermocyclops, Moina and Epischura occurred more frequently in artificial lakes. Rank-occurrence data revealed that Ceriodaphnia, Orthocyclops, Holopedium and Eucyclops were equitably distributed across water bodies of contrasting sizes, depths and climates. Other genera occurred under more specific conditions, typically where they had strong associations with natural lakes (e.g. Limnocalanus, Senecella, Heterocope, Arctodiaptomus and Aglaodiaptomus). These results are among the first to illustrate systematic differences in zooplankton composition between natural and artificial lakes at a global scale. Potential explanations require further evidence, but might include provision for niche specialists in natural lakes versus reduced heterogeneity, management or disturbance effects in artificial lakes; and effects of lake age, stability and habitat naturalness in natural lakes. While zooplankton communities in natural lakes are well studied globally, more extensive data are required from artificial lakes.
zooplankton, species richness, community composition, meta-analysis