, Volume 537, Issue 1–3, pp 89–97 | Cite as

Zooplankton community structure, micro-zooplankton grazing impact, and seston energy content in the St. Johns river system, Florida as influenced by the toxic cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii

  • Jeremy A. LeonardEmail author
  • Hans W. Paerl


Zooplankton can influence the phytoplankton community through preferential grazing. In turn, nuisance cyanobacteria may affect zooplankton community structure by allowing certain species to out-compete others. We examined zooplankton-phytoplankton interactions, micro-zooplankton (< 200 μm) grazing, and biochemical components of the seston in the St. Johns River System (SJR), Florida in the presence and absence of the toxin-producing cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii. We tested whether this cyanobacterium would cause a decrease in the size structure of the zooplankton community and postulated a resultant decline in the metabolic energy and carbon available to higher consumers (i.e. fish). When numbers of C. raciborskii were low or undetectable, zooplankton were more diverse and were comprised of larger species. Rotifers were the dominant zooplankton, and their numbers relative to other zooplankton increased as C. raciborskii concentrations increased. Micro-zooplankton grazing was higher in times of C. raciborskii abundance, suggesting competitive and predatory exclusion by larger zooplankton in times of higher phytoplankton diversity. Total caloric content of the seston was higher in times of C. raciborskii abundance. However, essential fatty acids and phosphorus may be lacking in the seston, or nutrients may potentially be sequestered by the cyanobacteria and remain as organic matter in the water column. In such cases, higher trophic levels would not be able to obtain optimal energy requirements. Overall, there was a greater impact of micro-grazers on phytoplankton in the presence of C. raciborskii and apparent negative effects on the larger zooplankton species, suggesting a potential for changes in zooplankton and higher trophic level community structure.


carbohydrates Cylindrospermopsis lipids micro-zooplankton proteins 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Marine SciencesUniversity of North Carolina-Chapel HillMorehead CityUSA

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