Diel vertical migration (DVM) is a complex and dynamic behaviour against predation because the reaction of migrating organisms to light intensity plays a primary role, but is modified by other factors. In the relatively shallow but thermally stratified Lake Eymir, Daphnia pulex de Geers utilized vertical refugia afforded by the hypolimnion during both day and night. Differences in general vulnerability to fish predation determined the differences in their mean residence depths (MRDs) of different population categories such as most conspicuous and vulnerable individuals of adult with eggs inhabited the deepest depth, whereas juveniles stayed close the thermocline. In late spring, profoundly high amplitude of displacement within the hypolimnion, probably due to the hypolimnion being well-lit and relatively well-oxygenated for the fish and rather unsafe for the large-sized daphnids, was recorded. Therefore, the large-sized daphnids daytime refuge was close to the bottom whereas at night they moved upward to benefit from warmer water temperature along with food availability in the presence of fish predation but still remained below the thermocline. In summer, the insignificant amplitude of the hypolimnetic, which later became epilimnetic, displacements were probably due to the near-anoxic condition found below the thermocline. This might have deterred the fish, thus providing a safer refuge for daphnids in the below thermocline, which afterwards became the above thermocline. Low oxygen availability was regarded as the summer proximate factor. The abundant food and warmer water conditions found in the below/above thermocline also accounted for absence of DVM in summer. Consequently, this study suggests that DVM by Daphnia is an adaptation that is plastic to changing environmental conditions.
birth rate death rate predation pressure water temperature