, Volume 579, Issue 1, pp 219–231 | Cite as

Biotic relations affecting species structure in zooplankton communities

  • Vitaliy P. Semenchenko
  • Vladimir I. Razlutskij
  • Irina Yu. FeniovaEmail author
  • Denis N. Aibulatov
Primary Research Paper


Mathematical modelling and laboratory experiments were used to study how exploitative competition and predation influence the species structure in cladoceran community. For five species of Cladocera (Sida crystallina, Daphnia magna, Simocephalus vetulus, Daphnia longispina, and Diaphanosoma brachyurum), representing a gradient of body size, population characteristics were described as functions of food concentration. Abundance dynamics were simulated in mixed species cultures and invasion experiments under different levels of food supply corresponding to oligo-, meso-, and eutrophic conditions. Separate simulations were also run including and excluding (fish) predation. The competitive ability of each species was estimated as the values of the population equilibrium food concentration. Simulation results showed that for the no-predator scenario, increases in the level of food supply promoted species coexistence while under lower food concentrations only one species remained at the end of the simulation runs. When predation was allowed, the number of species that coexisted at the end of the simulations increased up to four species, indicating that predator pressure facilitated species coexistence because it shortened periods of food depletion. Simulation results were verified in laboratory experiments which suggested that population equilibrium food concentration can be used as an estimate of competitive ability. Finally, species structure and relative abundance in Lake Naroch (Belarus) during the summer of 2004 was found to be consistent with our results from computer simulation and laboratory experiments with regard to competition and predation impacts on zooplankton community.


Community structure Competition Predation Zooplankton Cladocera Computer simulations 



We thank Wolfgang Jansen for improving the English and general editing of the manuscript. We are grateful to Yu. Yu. Dgebuadze under whose guidance this work was done. We are also grateful to T. M. Zhukova, the director of Biological Station of the Belorussian State University on Lake Naroch, and her colleagues for providing access to laboratory equipment and their help with the field study. This study was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project 06-04-48409) and Russian and Belorussian Foundation for Basic Research (06-04-81017).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vitaliy P. Semenchenko
    • 1
  • Vladimir I. Razlutskij
    • 1
  • Irina Yu. Feniova
    • 2
    Email author
  • Denis N. Aibulatov
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyNational Academy of Sciences of BelarusMinskRepublic of Belarus
  2. 2.A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and EvolutionRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Geographical FacultyM.V. Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia

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