, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 19-27

Zooplankton research: the contribution of limnology to general ecological paradigms

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Abstract

Biotic interactions and density dependent processes are particularly important in the pelagic zone of a lake. Plankton has numerous properties (e.g., short life cycles, size structure) that makes them suitable objects for testing hypotheses and developing concepts relevant for general ecology. Zooplankton being in the center of aquatic food webs and influenced strongly by both bottom-up and top-down processes have often been used as models for ecological paradigms. The trophic-dynamic concept, the theory of population dynamics, and the analysis of predator-prey relationships are examples of successful contributions of zooplankton research. In recent years, zooplankton research has developed new ideas in community, population and evolutionary ecology. This is illustrated by studies on mechanisms of seasonal succession, competition and phenotypic plasticity. The new concept of physiological ecology is explained with copepod diapause behaviour. The blending of ideas from ecology and evolutionary genetics, which is undergoing a rapid development of new tools, will create new paradigms in the future, and zooplankton research will play an important part in this process.