Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 515–524 | Cite as

The efficacy of Scenedesmus morphology as a defense mechanism against grazing by selected species of rotifers and cladocerans

  • S.M. Mayeli
  • S. Nandini
  • S.S.S. Sarma


Phytoplankton often develop various defense mechanisms in response to zooplankton grazing, such as spines and colonies. While it is now known that increased spine length and cells in a colony of members of the genus Scenedesmus, when zooplankton grazing is intense, helps in reducing zooplankton filtering rates, the effect of these defense mechanisms at the population level has been observed in few studies. Here we present data on the growth rates of four zooplankton species, Brachionus calyciflorus, B. patulus, Ceriodaphnia dubia and Daphnia pulex at two food levels using two species of colony-forming Scenedesmus spp.: S. acutus (cell length = 18.2 ± 0.4 µm; width = 4.2 ± 0.1 µm; average colony length = 90 µm; width: 21 µm) and S. quadricauda (cell length: 21 ± 0.5 width 7.5 ± 0.3 µm; average colony length: 84 µm; width: 30 µm). Whereas S. acutus had no spines, S. quadricauda had spines of 6–10 µm. Population growth experiments of the test rotifers and cladocerans were conducted in 100 ml containers with 50 ml of the medium with test algae. Algae concentrations used were: 13 and 52 mg dw l–1 of each of the two algal species offered in colonial forms. We used an initial inoculation zooplankter density of 1 ind. ml–1 for either of the rotifer species and 0.2 ind. ml–1 for either of the cladoceran species. In all, we had 64 test containers (4 test species of zooplankton × 2 test species of algae × 2 algal densities × 4 replicates). We found a significant effect of algal size on the growth rates of all the four tested species of zooplankton. The population growth rates of zooplankton ranged from −0.58 to 0.66 and were significantly higher on diet of S. acutus than of S. quadricauda. Thus, our study confirms that the larger colony size and the formation of spines in S. quadricauda were effective defenses against grazing by both rotifers and smaller sized cladoceran Ceriodaphnia dubia but that larger-bodied Daphnia pulex could exploit both the algal populations equally.

Algal defenses Cladocerans Population growth rates Rotifers Scenedesmus 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • S.M. Mayeli
    • 1
  • S. Nandini
    • 1
  • S.S.S. Sarma
    • 2
  1. 1.UIICSE, Division of Research and Postgraduate StudiesNational Autonomous University of MexicoTlalnepantlaMexico
  2. 2.Laboratory of Aquatic Zoology, Building UMF, Division of Research and Postgraduate StudiesNational Autonomous University of MexicoTlalnepantlaMexico

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