Zooplankton communities in a large prealpine lake, Lake Constance: comparison between the Upper and the Lower Lake

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Hans Bernd STICH *
Martin PFEIFFER
Gerhard MAIER
(*) Corresponding Author:
Hans Bernd STICH | gmaier.limnos@t-online.de

Abstract

The zooplankton communities of two basins of a large lake, Lake Constance, were compared during the years 2002 and 2003. The two basins differ in morphology, physical and chemical conditions. The Upper Lake basin has a surface area of 470 km2, a mean depth of 100 and a maximum depth of 250 m; the Lower Lake basin has a surface area of 62 km2, a mean depth of only 13 and a maximum depth of 40 m. Nutrient, chlorophyll-a concentrations and mean temperatures are somewhat higher in the Lower than in the Upper Lake. Total abundance of rotifers (number per m2 lake surface) was higher and rotifer development started earlier in the year in the Lower than in the Upper Lake. Total abundance of crustaceans was higher in the Upper Lake in the year 2002; in the year 2003 no difference in abundance could be detected between the lake basins, although in summer crustacean abundance was higher in the Lower than in the Upper Lake. Crustacean communities differed significantly between lake basins while there was no apparent difference in rotifer communities. In the Lower Lake small crustaceans, like Bosmina spp., Ceriodaphnia pulchella and Thermocyclops oithonoides prevailed. Abundance (number per m2 lake surface) of predatory cladocerans, large daphnids and large copepods was much lower in the Lower than in the Upper Lake, in particular during the summer months. Ordination with nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMS) separated communities of both lakes along gradients that correlated with temperature and chlorophyll a concentration. Clutches of copepods were larger in the Lower than in the Upper Lake. No difference could be detected in clutch size of large daphnids between lake basins. Our results show that zooplankton communities in different basins of Lake Constance can be very different. They further suggest that the lack of large crustaceans in particular the lack of large predatory cladocerans in the Lower Lake can have negative effects on growth and reproduction of zooplanktivorous European whitefish, Coregonus lavaretus, which feeds highly selectively on large cladocerans and which is of great economic significance for the whole region. Another possibility could be that the lack of large Cladocera in the Lower Lake is a result of strong fish predation which could be a consequence of lake morphology.

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