, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 25-33
Date: 09 Jan 2007

Spatial variability in the abundance of pelagic invertebrate predators in relation to depth and turbidity

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Abstract

The abundance of pelagic invertebrate predators in relation to turbidity and depth gradients in Lake Hiidenvesi (southern Finland) were studied. In the shallow (<5 m) and the most turbid (up to 75 NTU) part of the lake, the community of invertebrate predators consisted of cyclopoid copepods (max biomass >500 μg dw l−1) and Leptodora kindtiii (Focke) (17 μg dw l−1), while in the less turbid (10–40 NTU) stratifying area Chaoborus flavicans (Meigen) dominated (max 146 μg dw l−1). In the temporarily stratifying and moderately turbid basin Chaoborus and small-bodied invertebrate predators co-existed. Mysis relicta (Lovén) occurred only in the stratifying area (max 15 μg dw l−1). The results suggested that both water depth and turbidity contributed to the community structure of Chaoborus flavicans. Depth great enough for stratification was of special importance and its effect was amplified by elevated turbidity, while high turbidity alone could not maintain chaoborid populations. Mysis relicta also requires a hypolimnetic refuge but is more sensitive to low oxygen concentrations and may therefore be forced to the epilimnion where it is vulnerable to fish predation. Cyclopoids as rapid swimmers can take advantage at elevated turbidity levels and coexist in high biomass with fish even in shallow water. Leptodora kindtii can form high biomass despite planktivorous fish providing that turbidity exceeds 20 NTU. The results demonstrated that depth and water turbidity can strongly regulate the abundance and species composition of invertebrate predators. These factors must thus be taken into account when applying food web management, which aims to reduce phytoplankton biomass by depressing planktivorous fish.