Demographic and life history response of the cladoceranBosmina longirostris to variation in predator abundance

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Population dynamics, demography and body size of the cladoceranBosmina longirostris were examined in an experimental study in which the abundance of its predator (the cyprind fishPhoxinus eos) was varied in an unproductive lake. Four densities of fish were used, encompassing the biomass of fish in the lake.Bosmina was most abundant at low and medium fish densities (1.06 and 2.12 g fish biomass · m-3) and less abundant when fish were either absent or present at high density (3.71 g fish biomass · m-3). The unimodal response to predator abundance resulted from effects on both birth and death rates.Bosmina birth rates increased as fish biomass increased, in response to increasing food (phytoplankton) biomass. Death rates were highest at high fish biomass (because of fish predation) and in the absence of fish (because of predation by the dipteranChaoborus, which was most abundant in the absence of fish). Size-frequency distributions revealed that fish eliminated the larger size classes ofBosmina, and mean carapace length ofBosmina populations was inversely proportional to fish biomass.Bosmina initiated reproduction at smaller size in the presence of fish than in their absence, and size at maturity was inversely proportional to fish biomass. Size at birth also tended to decrease with increasing fish biomass, but this trend was not as strong as that of size at maturity. Decreased size at maturity apparently allowedBosmina individuals to reproduce before becoming vulnerable to fish predation. Flexibility in size at maturity, together with low abundance of invertebrate predators and large herbivores (which were preyed upon by fish), allowedBosmina to become abundant in low and medium fish treatments. In the high fish treatment, mortality due to fish predation was too severe to be offset by decreased size at maturity, andBosmina population density was low. The net response ofBosmina populations to fish predation results from interactive effects of predation on mortality, natality, and life history traits.

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Vonder Brink, R.H., Vanni, M.J. Demographic and life history response of the cladoceranBosmina longirostris to variation in predator abundance. Oecologia 95, 70–80 (1993).

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  • Biomass
  • Phytoplankton
  • Fish Predation
  • Carapace Length
  • Fish Density