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The high species richness of zooplankton communities in macrophytes littoral zones could result from the diversity of potential trophic niches found in such environment. In macrophytes littoral zones, in addition to phytoplankton, neustonic, benthic and epiphytic biofilms can also be potential components of the microcrustacean diet. Here, we investigated the ability of three large cladocerans: Daphnia longispina, Simocephalus vetulus and Eurycercus lamellatus, to develop on periphyton as their only food source or as a complement to a phytoplankton resource in scarce supply. D. longispina exhibited a very low growth and reproduction rates on the periphytic resource and as S. vetulus seems unable to scrape on periphyton. In contrast, E. lamellatus could not grow on phytoplankton, and appears to be an obligatory periphyton scraper. This latter finding contrasts with previous studies suggesting that E. lamellatus could be able to scrap periphyton as well as filter-feed on suspended matter. These differences in feeding strategy probably reflect the different trophic niches occupied by these three species in macrophytes littoral zones, and may explain at least in part their ability to coexist in the same environment.
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