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The impact of diel vertical migration of Daphnia on phytoplankton dynamics

, : The impact of diel vertical migration of Daphnia on phytoplankton dynamics. Oecologia 146(1): 50-56

Diel vertical migration (DVM) of large zooplankton is a very common phenomenon in the pelagic zone of lakes and oceans. Although the underlying mechanisms of DVM are well understood, we lack experimental studies on the consequences of this behaviour for the zooplankton's food resource-the phytoplankton. As large zooplankton species or individuals migrate downwards into lower and darker water strata by day and upwards into surface layers by night, a huge amount of herbivorous biomass moves through the water column twice a day. This migration must have profound consequences for the phytoplankton. It is generally assumed that migration supports an enhanced phytoplankton biomass and a change in the composition of the phytoplankton community towards smaller, edible algae in the epilimnion of a lake. We tested this assumption for the first time in field experiments by comparing phytoplankton biomass and community assemblage in mesocosms with and without artificially migrating natural stocks of Daphnia hyalina. We show that DVM can enhance phytoplankton biomass in the epilimnion and that it has a strong impact on the composition of a phytoplankton community leading to an advantage for small, edible algae. Our results support the idea that DVM of Daphnia can have strong effects on phytoplankton dynamics in a lake.


PMID: 16007409

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-005-0176-3

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