Date: 20 Jul 2006

Planktonic microbial assemblages and the potential effects of metazooplankton predation on the food web of lakes from the maritime Antarctica and sub-Antarctic islands

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Antarctica is the continent with the harshest climate on the Earth. Antarctic lakes, however, usually presents liquid water, at least during part of the year or below the ice cover, especially those from the sub-Antarctic islands and the maritime Antarctic region where climatic conditions are less extreme. Planktonic communities in these lakes are mostly dominated by microorganisms, including bacteria and phototrophic and heterotrophic protists, and by metazooplankton, usually represented by rotifers and calanoid copepods, the latter mainly from the genus Boeckella. Here I report and discuss on studies performed during the last decade that show that there is a potential for top–down control of the structure of the planktonic microbial food web in sub-Antarctic and maritime Antarctic lakes. In some of the studied lakes, the effect of copepod grazing on protozoa, either ciliates or flagellates, depending on size of both the predator and the prey, could promote cascade effects that would be transmitted to the bacterioplankton assemblage.