Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 37-44

First online:

Development of tolerance against toxic cyanobacteria in Daphnia

  • Susanne GustafssonAffiliated withLund University
  • , Lars-Anders HanssonAffiliated withLund University

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We tested whether previous exposure to a toxic strain of cyanobacteria (Microcystis) affects survival, growth, and reproduction of a common herbivore, Daphnia magna. Samples from three natural populations of D. magna were each divided into two parts; one part was fed a mixture of toxic Microcystis and the non-toxic green alga Scenedesmus whereas the other part was fed only Scenedesmus. After four weeks, we compared the ability of these two populations to withstand the toxic Microcystis by assessing survivorship, growth, and reproduction. We found that the ability of D. magna to cope successfully with toxic Microcystis is improved if the animals have experienced previous exposure to toxic Microcystis. This suggests that the toxin may less affect the D. magna populations that are repeatedly exposed to toxic cyanobacteria in their natural habitat than populations lacking prior exposure. Since the ability to tolerate toxins is manifested in both improved survival and larger size of the animals, it may have considerable impact on zooplankton community composition in fresh-waters.

Adaptation, Algal toxin Cyanobacteria Daphnia Herbivore Lake Microcystis