Long-term changes of the crustacean zooplankton community in Lake Mjøsa, the largest lake in Norway

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Jarl Eivind LØVIK *
Gösta KJELLBERG
(*) Corresponding Author:
Jarl Eivind LØVIK | jarl.loevik@niva.no

Abstract

Lake Mjøsa has been subject to an accelerating eutrophication from the 1950s to the mid 1970s, but comprehensive nutrient reduction efforts caused marked reductions of phytoplankton production and biomass during the 1980s, a process that continued during the 1990s. Zooplankton biomass and species composition was considerably affected during the eutrophication and subsequent oligotrophication. Total crustacean zooplankton biomass decreased along with decreasing algal biomass during the 1980s and 1990s. The seasonal means of zooplankton biomass were positively correlated with seasonal means of phytoplankton biovolume and chlorophyll-a, indicating a primarily bottom up regulation of the zooplankton biomass. Several herbivorous and omnivorous zooplankton species (Daphnia galeata, Bosmina longispina, Limnocalanus macrurus and Cyclops lacustris) were probably negatively affected by reduced algal biomass, whereas other species (Holopedium gibberum and Thermocyclops oithonoides/Mesocyclops leuckarti) seemed to be positively affected. H. gibberum disappeared in the 1960s, but reappeared in the 1980s after the significant reduction in algal biomass and primary production. The temporal trend of T. oithonoides/M. leuckarti indicated a strong competition with cladocerans (mainly B. longispina and D. galeata) in periods with high algal biomass. Early warming of the lake could also have promoted a biomass increase of T. oithonoides/M. leuckarti in later years, although the mean epilimnion temperature did not correlate with seasonal mean biomass of these species. The seasonal mean biomass of Eudiaptomus gracilis, the dominant calanoid, showed substantial fluctuations with 6-7 years between tops, but a decreasing trend during the 1990s. However, there were no significant correlations between this species and any of the environmental variables. The study indicated that dominant cladocerans (D. galeata and B. longispina) are decisive for the success of cisco (Coregonus albula), one of the most important planktivorous fish species, as also described by earlier studies. However it also demonstrated top down control on cladocerans in years with especially large stocks of cisco.

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