, Volume 141, Issue 3, pp 411–419 | Cite as

The effect of different zooplankton grazing patterns resulting from diel vertical migration on phytoplankton growth and composition: a laboratory experiment

  • Elke S. ReichwaldtEmail author
  • Isabelle D. Wolf
  • Herwig Stibor
Population Ecology


Diel vertical migration (DVM) of herbivorous zooplankton is a widespread behavioural phenomenon in freshwater ecosystems. So far only little attention has been paid to the impact of DVM on the phytoplankton community in the epilimnion. Some theoretical models predict that algal population growth in the epilimnion should depend on the herbivores’ migration and grazing patterns: even if migrating zooplankton consume the same total amount of algae per day in the epilimnion as non-migrating zooplankton, nocturnal grazing should result in enhanced algal growth and favour algal species with high intrinsic growth rates over species with lower intrinsic growth rates. To test these hypotheses we performed experiments in which several algal species were confronted with different feeding regimes of Daphnia. In the experiments algal growth did not only depend on the absolute time of grazing but was comparatively higher when grazing took place only during the night, even when the grazing pressure was the same. Furthermore, algal species with higher intrinsic growth rates had higher advantages when being grazed upon only discontinuously during the night than algal species with a smaller intrinsic growth rate. The grazing pattern itself was an important factor for relative algal performance.


Daphnia Diel vertical migration Grazing rate Direct effects Algal performance 



We wish to thank Sebastian Diehl for valuable suggestions on the manuscript. During the experiments E. S. Reichwaldt was supported by a scholarship for PhD students from the University of Munich and I. D. Wolf was supported by a scholarship from the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elke S. Reichwaldt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Isabelle D. Wolf
    • 1
  • Herwig Stibor
    • 1
  1. 1.Department Biologie II, Abteilung Aquatische ÖkologieLudwig-Maximilians UniversitätMartinsriedGermany

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