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Zooplankton interactions in an enclosure experiment: insights from stable isotope analyses

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2004
<mark>Journal</mark>Freshwater Biology
Issue number11
Volume49
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)1495-1504
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

1. Density gradients of cladocerans and copepods were generated in an enclosure experiment to compare the impact on the plankton of a filter feeder (Daphnia hyalina × galeata) with that of more selective feeders (calanoid and cyclopoid copepods). The experiment was conducted in situ over 25 days during spring in a mesotrophic lake, Schöhsee, Germany. 2. The plankton community was monitored regularly. Daphniids were able to graze on the phytoplankton present, which mainly consisted of small (<1000 μm3) species, whereas copepods did not show any impact on algae. 3. At the end of the experiment, Daphnia and remaining cyclopoid copepods were harvested and sorted manually, prior to analyses for stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen. Daphniids from mesocosms stocked purely with differing densities of Daphnia showed little variability in stable isotope values, whereas those that thrived in enclosure bags together with copepods exhibited lower δ13C values. 4. The change in Daphniaδ13C indicates a change of food sources, modified by the presence of the copepods: the higher the mean abundance of copepods in the enclosures, the more 13C-depleted the daphniids. Increasing abundance of high nucleic acid (HNA) bacteria in the copepod bags may account for the trend in Daphniaδ13C via increased grazing on the bacteria themselves, or via grazing on phytoplankton utilising isotopically light CO2 from respiratory release. 5. Cyclopoid copepod stable isotope signatures were related to Daphnia and copepod abundances in copepod bags, suggesting that cyclopoids preyed on the available zooplankton.