Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 265–280 | Cite as

Assessing the relevance of top-down and bottom-up effects as phytoplankton structure drivers in a subtropical hypereutrophic shallow lake

  • Diego Frau
  • Yamila BattauzEmail author
  • Patricio Francisco Alvarenga
  • Pablo Augusto Scarabotti
  • Gisela Mayora
  • Rodrigo Sinistro


Although several studies explain the trophic cascade in water systems, we lack knowledge about top-down–bottom-up effects on phytoplankton from eutrophic lakes. In this study, we tested the importance of trophic cascades on phytoplankton structure, predicting that environmental variations are the main drivers. We performed a monthly sampling during a year to measure environmental variables, phytoplankton and zooplankton, plus two samplings (winter and summer) to assess fish structure. Furthermore, we analyzed zooplanktivorous fish stomach-gut contents and completed a hatching zooplankton resting egg experiment to assess the effect of fish on dormant populations. We ran a partial redundancy analysis (pRDA) for phytoplankton using zooplankton, nutrient availability and environmental variables as predictor variables. We finally calculated several ratios of the zooplankton:phytoplankton biovolume to assess potential predation effects. Phytoplankton was correlated with variations in temperature and conductivity plus nutrients (pRDA: 63.4%, F = 4.6, P = 0.001) and was dominated alternatively by diatoms and cyanobacteria. Zooplankton was dominated by microphagous rotifers (> 45% of the total biovolume), and only the ratio of microphagous rotifer:small chlorophytes was significant during summer and autumn (F = 10.6, P = 0.005). The fish community was dominated by insectivorous-planktivorous fish (> 65% of total density), yet a negative selection of zooplankton items (Ivlev’s index < 0) was found. Nevertheless, the zooplankton resting stage analysis showed that microphagous Rotifera were dominant (29 species emerged), suggesting a structuring effect of fish on the zooplankton size. We conclude that phytoplankton was mainly controlled by environmental variations plus nutrient availability, while top-down had a less evident effect.


Nutrients Environmental variations Fish predation Zooplankton Phytoplankton 



We thank C. de Bonis for his assistance in the field and Dr. P. de Tezanos Pinto for language assistance. This manuscript was also improved by the suggestions of anonymous reviewers and was supported by the SECTEI 2010-044-13 project awarded by Secretaría de Ciencia y Técnica de la Provincia de Santa Fe (Argentina) and by the PICT-2013 no. 214-14 project awarded by Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Nacional de Limnología (CONICET-UNL)Ciudad UniversitariaSanta FeArgentina
  2. 2.Facultad de Ciencias y TecnologíaUniversidad Autónoma de Entre RíosOro VerdeArgentina
  3. 3.Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias (UNL)Ciudad UniversitariaSanta FeArgentina
  4. 4.Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, IEGEBA (UBA-CONICET), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUBABuenos AiresArgentina

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