Seasonal dynamics and life histories of pelagic cladocerans (Crustacea; Cladocera) in an acid boreal lake

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Svein Birger WÆRVÅGEN *
Jens Petter NILSSEN
(*) Corresponding Author:
Svein Birger WÆRVÅGEN | svein.warvagen@hihm.no

Abstract

In the surveyed anthropogenic acidified Lake Gjerstadvann with pH ≈ 5.2 situated in southern Norway, spatial and temporal distribution of three characteristic planktonic cladocerans inhabiting acidified boreal biotopes, Bosmina longispina, Holopedium gibberum, and Diaphanosoma brachyurum, were studied over a period of one year. The major pelagic predator was Eurasian perch, Perca fluviatilis. The local perch probably balanced the cladoceran community and facilitated co-existence of all three species of cladocerans by removing significant portions of B. longispina, which could also be the case in similar types of boreal lakes. Invertebrate predators such as the dipteran larvae Chaoborus flavicans and carnivorous copepods did not seem to influence the cladoceran community. B. longispina was perennial, whereas both H. gibberum and D. brachyurum were recorded only during the ice-free period. The life cycle of these free-living pelagic species ranged from 2-3 in D. brachyurum, 3 in H. gibberum to approximately 6 annual generations in B. longispina. Wintering took place as resting eggs in D. brachyurum and H. gibberum, while B. longispina produced resting eggs in addition to an active planktonic stay. The warm water tolerant D. brachyurum was mainly distributed above the thermocline, whereas H. gibberum also inhabited deeper strata, and B. longispina most vertical strata of the lake. Maximum seasonal clutch volume of B. longispina coincided in time with peak in food abundance and may be a useful parameter to identify planktonic food availability in such lakes. Knowledge of the autecology and life history of species is fundamental for understanding ecosystem stress, such as anthropogenic acidification and recovery through liming or by natural causes. Seasonal depth isoplots combined with life history studies of commonly co-occurring cladoceran species from natural acid and anthropogenic acidified lakes on the Northern Hemisphere seem to be uncommon, and similar type of data is needed to fully understand the processes of acidification and recovery.

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