, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 253-266
Date: 25 Dec 2012

Cladoceran remains reveal presence of a keystone size-selective planktivore

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We tested the use of cladoceran remains as a proxy for the presence and life history type of alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) from pre-colonial times to present in a group of coastal lakes in southern New England. Alewife are a keystone predator that structure the zooplankton community through strong predation on large-bodied zooplankton species, which releases small zooplankton species, such as Bosmina spp., from competition and predation pressure. In southern New England there are lakes without alewife, lakes with anadromous alewife that only reside in lakes during the summer, and lakes with landlocked alewife that reside in lakes year-round. The entire zooplankton community of these lakes is structured differently based on the presence and type of alewife they contain. We examined differences in the morphology of Bosmina spp. from sediment core samples and contemporary zooplankton samples between lakes with different types of alewife. We found that there were significant differences in the morphology of Bosmina spp. between lakes with and without alewife. We also used discriminant analysis on the morphology of Bosmina spp. to classify lakes in terms of alewife presence and alewife type. We found that the morphology of Bosmina spp. can serve as a useful proxy for detecting the presence, but not the life history type of alewife from paleoecological and contemporary inferences.