Microbial Ecology

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 19–29 | Cite as

Water discharge-regulated bacteria-heterotrophic nanoflagellate (HNF) interactions in the water column of the river rhine

  • M. WeitereEmail author
  • H. Arndt


Heterotrophic nanoftagellates (HNF) make up a large fraction of the Zooplankton biomass of rivers. Their abundance can be strongly affected by water discharge, but the consequences of this highly dynamic factor for their main prey, the bacteria, is still unknown. The focus of this study was on bacterial-HNF interactions in the Lower River Rhine (Germany) with respect to the discharge-dependent dynamics. The bacterial and HNF abundances and biomasses were determined over the course of 17 months. The potential consumption of bacteria by HNF was calculated based on the biomass data and on data on the HNF production. The mean bacterial abundance in the Rhine at Cologne ranged from 0.3×106 to 3.5×106 cells mL−1 with lowest abundances in winter and highest in late spring. No significant changes in abundance during the downstream passage were found. Neither could a significant correlation be found between bacterial and HNF abundance. The ratio of bacterial to HNF abundance showed high variations which lay between 166 and 19,055 and was negatively dependent on water discharge. Monthly routine calculations on the potential bacterial consumption by HNF revealed a clearance of between 2 and 66% of the bacterial standing stock d−1. The values increased greatly with water discharge and could exceed 100% d−1 at times of high water flow. The presented data suggests a change in the top-down control of the planktonic bacteria due to the water discharge: The importance of benthic predation at low water flow (high contact probability to benfhic predators) gives way to an increased importance in predation by planktonic HNF at high water flow.


Water Discharge Flood Event Bacterial Abundance Bacterial Biomass Heterotrophic Flagellate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of General Ecology and LimnologyUniversity of Cologne, Zoological InstituteCologneGermany

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