Relative significance of direct and indirect effects of predation by planktivorous fish on zooplankton
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- Gliwicz, Z.M. Hydrobiologia (1994) 272: 201. doi:10.1007/BF00006521
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One of the most obvious features of tropical lakes and reservoirs is the small body size of their zooplankton taxa. It is believed that this is the result of high and persistent predation by abundant planktivorous fish, which select large-bodied zooplankton prey thus making them more vulnerable to extinction in tropical as compared to temperate habitats. Do these extinctions result directly from fish predation? Could the high predation-induced mortality alone be responsible for an extermination of the population from a habitat? Or could indirect effects of predation be responsible? Some important indirect effects can be seen at the demographic level; these include reduced reproduction in the population resulting from higher vulnerability of ovigerous females to predation by visually oriented planktivores. Other important indirect effects can be observed at the individual level; these include shifts in behavior (from foraging to predator avoidance) and adjustments in physiology (from high to low feeding rate) in those planktonic animals which detect danger from their predators by sensing either the ‘predator odor’ or an ‘alarm substance’ originating from injured conspecific prey. Although a zooplankton species density may mostly result from the brutal force of direct predator impact on the population (mortality), it is more likely that its distribution in time and space could be attributed to a combination of indirect effects of predation on individual behavior and physiology. An example of periodicity in density and depth distribution patterns of Cahora Bassa zooplankton species and their periodic exterminations seems to confirm the role of indirect effects of predation by planktivorous fish.