, Volume 150, Issue 4, pp 668–681 | Cite as

Spring bloom succession, grazing impact and herbivore selectivity of ciliate communities in response to winter warming

  • N. AberleEmail author
  • K. Lengfellner
  • U. Sommer
Global change and conservation ecology


This study aimed at simulating different degrees of winter warming and at assessing its potential effects on ciliate succession and grazing-related patterns. By using indoor mesocosms filled with unfiltered water from Kiel Bight, natural light and four different temperature regimes, phytoplankton spring blooms were induced and the thermal responses of ciliates were quantified. Two distinct ciliate assemblages, a pre-spring and a spring bloom assemblage, could be detected, while their formation was strongly temperature-dependent. Both assemblages were dominated by Strobilidiids; the pre-spring bloom phase was dominated by the small Strobilidiids Lohmaniella oviformis, and the spring bloom was mainly dominated by large Strobilidiids of the genus Strobilidium. The numerical response of ciliates to increasing food concentrations showed a strong acceleration by temperature. Grazing rates of ciliates and copepods were low during the pre-spring bloom period and high during the bloom ranging from 0.06 (Δ0°C) to 0.23 day−1 (Δ4°C) for ciliates and 0.09 (Δ0°C) to 1.62 day−1 (Δ4°C) for copepods. During the spring bloom ciliates and copepods showed a strong dietary overlap characterized by a wide food spectrum consisting mainly of Chrysochromulina sp., diatom chains and large, single-celled diatoms.


Microzooplankton Baltic Sea spring assemblages Climate change Plankton mesocosms Global change 



We would like to thank Thomas Hansen, Sandra Schröder and Christine Rautenstrauch for the maintenance of the mesocosms and for their technical support. The participants of the Kiel Plankton Mesocosm Cluster are thanked for the joint experimental activities. We thank Karen Wiltshire and three anonymous reviewers for the valuable and constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This study was part of the project SO 145/23-1 within the DFG priority program 1162 AQUASHIFT, and we are grateful for the funding. This study complies with the current German law.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IFM-GEOMAR Leibniz Institute of Marine SciencesKielGermany

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