Effects of planktivorous fish mass mortality on the plankton community of Lake Mendota, Wisconsin: implications for biomanipulation

  • 91 Accesses

  • 31 Citations


Massive mortality of planktivorous fish had a dramatic impact on plankton community dynamics of Lake Mendota, Wisconsin, USA. After fish mortality, the largerDaphnia pulicaria replaced the smallerDaphnia galeata mendotae, resulting in greater grazing pressure on phytoplankton. This was accompanied by a much longer spring clear-water period and lower summer phytoplankton biomass compared to years before the fish mortality. Analysis of historical data (from the mid-1970's) showed that previous fluctuations in planktivorous abundance had similar effects onDaphnia abundance and species composition, and on spring phytoplankton biomass. However, the mid-1970's fish fluctuations had no detectable effect on summer phytoplankton. Concentrations of phosphorus were much higher in the 1970's (spring P 80–135 µg 1−1) than in the 1980's (spring P 19–36 µg 1−1) and it is possible that high P concentrations may reduce trophic cascade effects on summer phytoplankton communities. This suggests that the success of biomanipulation programs may be dependent on lake nutrient status.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Benndorf, J., 1987. Food web manipulation without nutrient control: a useful strategy in lake restoration. Schweiz. Z. Hydrobiol. 49: 237–248.

  2. Benndorf, J. H. Schultz,A. Benndorf,R. Unger, E. Penz, H. Kneschke, K. Kossatz, R. Dumke, U. Hornig, R. Kruspe & S. Reichel, 1988. Food web manipulation by enhancement of piscivorous fish stocks: Long-term effects in the hypertrophic Bautzen reservoir. Limnologica 19: 97–110.

  3. Brock, T. D., 1985. A eutrophic lake. Lake Mendota, Wisconsin. Springer-Verlag, 308 pp.

  4. Carpenter, S. R. & J. F. Kitchell, 1988. Consumer control of lake productivity. BioScience 38: 764–769.

  5. Carpenter, S. R., J. F. Kitchell & J. R. Hodgson, 1985. Cascading trophic interactions and lake productivity. BioScience 35: 634–639.

  6. Crowder, L. J., R. W. Drenner, W. C. Kerfoot, D. J. McQueen, E. L. Mills, U. Sommer, C. N. Spencer, and M. J. Vanni, 1988. Food web interactions in lakes. In S. R. Carpenter (ed.), Complex interactions in lake communities. Springer-Verlag.

  7. Fallon, R. D. & T. D. Brock, 1980. Planktonic blue-green algae: production, sedimentation and decomposition. Limnol. Oceanogr. 25: 72–88.

  8. John, K. R. & A. D. Hasler, 1956. Observations on some factors affecting the hatching of eggs and the survival of young shallowwater cisco,Leucichthys artedii LeSeur in Lake Mendota, Wisconsin. Limnol. Oceanogr. 1: 176–194.

  9. Lampert, W., W. Fleckner, H. Rai & B. E. Taylor, 1986. Phytoplankton control by grazing zooplankton: a study on the spring clear-water phase. Limnol. Oceanogr. 31: 478–490.

  10. Lathrop, R. C., 1988. Phosphorus trends in the Yahara lakes since the mid-1960s. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Research Management Findings, no. 11, 4 pp.

  11. McQueen, D. J., J. R. Post & E. L. Mills, 1986. Trophic interactions in freshwater pelagic ecosystems. Can. J. Fish. aquat. Sci. 43: 1571–1581.

  12. Pedros-Alio, C. & T. D. Brock, 1985. Zooplankton dynamics in Lake Mendota: short-term versus long-term changes. Freshwat. Biol. 15: 89–94.

  13. Shapiro, J. & D. I Wright, 1984. Lake restoration by biomanipulation: Round Lake, Minnesota the first two years. Freshwat. Biol. 14: 371–383.

  14. Shapiro, J., V. Lamarra & M. Lynch, 1975. Biomanipulation: An ecosystem approach to lake restoration. In P. L. Brezonik and J. L. Fox (eds), Water quality management through biological control. University of Florida Press: 85–96.

  15. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1979. Methods for the chemical analysis of water and wastes, 2nd edition. U.S. Envir. Prot. Agency Rep. EPA-600/4-79/020.

  16. Vanni, M. J., C. Luecke, J. F. Kitchell, Y. Allen, J. Temte, & J. J. Magnuson, 1990. Effects on lower trophic levels of massive fish mortality. Nature 344: 333–335.

  17. Vanni, M. J. & J. Temte, in press. Seasonal patterns of grazing and nutrient limitation of phytoplankton in a eutrophic lake. Limnol. Oceanog. 35.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Vanni, M.J., Luecke, C., Kitchell, J.F. et al. Effects of planktivorous fish mass mortality on the plankton community of Lake Mendota, Wisconsin: implications for biomanipulation. Hydrobiologia 200, 329–336 (1990).

Download citation

Key words

  • biomanipulation
  • freshwater community structure