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Environmental factors have a varied impact on the development of juvenile and adult Cladocera, depending on their different physiological conditions and body size. The values of these factors alter spatially and temporarily, thus implying that they play a role in the spatial distribution of the pre-reproductive and potentially reproductive stages of cladocerans. The aim of the study was to determine seasonal and spatial variations in the distribution of juvenile and adult individuals of limnetic Cladocera in relation to selected physicochemical factors (temperature, conductivity, pH, concentration of dissolved oxygen, total organic carbon, total suspended solids) and fish predation pressure (measured by Chesson’s coefficient λ) in deep Lake Piaseczno (eastern Poland). Adult Cladocera displayed spatial distribution related to fish predation pressure. The species selectively eaten, B. coregoni and D. longispina, and non-selectively eaten, D. cucullata, selected the pelagic zone to exist, whereas those avoided by fish, D. brachyurum and B. longirostris, were evenly distributed in the littoral and pelagic zone. Juvenile cladocerans were strongly impacted by physico-chemical factors. Juvenile Daphnia, Diaphanosoma and B. longirostris showed preferences to biotic zones similar to the adults but differed in their habitat choices. Juvenile and adult stages of B. coregoni differed in their distribution, indicating that adult individuals impacted by high predation pressure alternatively modified their habitat selection. Principal component analysis (PCA) ordination showed a seasonal tendency for the spatial segregation of the cladocerans, suggesting that possible competitive interactions between the studied cladocerans may also influence their distribution patterns.
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