Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 37–53

The effects of global warming on Daphnia spp. population dynamics: a review


    • Department of Applied EcologyUniversity of Lodz

DOI: 10.1007/s10452-011-9380-x

Cite this article as:
Wojtal-Frankiewicz, A. Aquat Ecol (2012) 46: 37. doi:10.1007/s10452-011-9380-x


Various species of Daphnia usually play a key role in the food web of temperate freshwater systems. There is much evidence to show that climate change may influence Daphnia population dynamics, consequently altering both predator–prey interactions and the efficiency of algal biomass control in these ecosystems. This review will analyse and discuss the current knowledge on Daphnia responses to climate warming based on an analysis of selected papers. The presented results indicate that warming may have important direct and indirect effects on Daphnia biology and ecology via its influence on their life-history processes (metabolism, growth, reproduction) and the properties of their habitats. The plasticity of daphnids in terms of adaptive responses is generally high and includes phenotypic adaptations and changes in genotypes, although it also depends upon the strength of selection and the available genetic variation. The seasonal timing and magnitude of temperature increases are important for seasonal biomass fluctuations of Daphnia and similarly influence the potential synchrony of daphnids and phytoplankton succession (the timing hypothesis). In light of the most recent studies on this topic, even a minor warming during short but critical seasonal periods can cause factors that disturb Daphnia population dynamics to coincide, which may destabilize lake food webs by decoupling trophic interactions. Both winter and spring are important critical periods for determining future seasonal fluxes of Daphnia spp. and, consequently, the time of the clear-water phase and the occurrence and duration of Daphnia midsummer decline. Winter conditions may also affect the impact of fish predation on daphnids during summer months. However, the effects of global warming on Daphnia population dynamics and on ecosystem functioning are often difficult to predict due to their complexity and the presence of both antagonistic and synergistic drivers. Thus, the diverse responses of daphnids to climate anomalies depend on both biotic (predator abundance and seasonal phytoplankton succession) and abiotic factors (e.g. hydrodynamics, intensity and duration of thermal stratification, trophic state or geomorphology) of lakes, which are directly influenced by weather changes. The analysis and quantification of such complex interactions require the involvement of different kinds of specialists and the development of accurate research approaches, such as molecular genetic methods or mathematical modelling.


Climate anomaliesPhenologyClear-water phaseMatch/mismatchMidsummer decline

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011