, Volume 700, Issue 1, pp 287–300 | Cite as

Change in a lake benthic community over a century: evidence for alternative community states

  • Alexander Y. KaratayevEmail author
  • Lyubov E. Burlakova
  • M. Jake Vander Zanden
  • Richard C. Lathrop
  • Dianna K. Padilla
Primary Research Paper


Aquatic communities are one of the most studied systems where alternative states or regime shifts have been detected. We used data spanning a century of time to test whether the zoobenthic community of Lake Mendota, Wisconsin, USA, was relatively stable through time, variable, or whether there was any evidence of alternative community states. We used multivariate statistical analyses to test for community structure similarity and whether detected differences corresponded to major changes in the local environment. Surprisingly, the benthic community in Lake Mendota was not statistically different from the mid 1960s to the present. Similarly, the benthic community was not significantly different from 1914 to the 1950s. However, between the 1950s and mid 1960s there was a dramatic change in the zoobenthic community, including the loss of key taxa and a decrease in the diversity of several major taxa. This dramatic change cannot be attributed to any single environmental factor, and is correlated with multiple factors acting simultaneously, including increased urban development, human population density, intensive agriculture, and the introduction of a major invasive species, Eurasian watermilfoil. The long-term similarity in the benthic community before and after the shift suggests two alternative states that switched with the confluence of multiple stressors.


Zoobenthos Long-term change Community analysis Multiple community states Lake Mendota 



We thank the staff and the Director of the Center for Limnology, James Kitchell, for providing space for AYK and LEB, and lab and field support for this project, and Karen Wilson, Dmitry and Vadim Karatayev, Irina Geramovna Parsamova, Dave Harring, Willie Fetzer, Stephanie Schmidt, and Tyler R. McCombs for assistance with sampling and sample processing, and F. James Rohlf for discussions on our statistical analyses. We thank Karen O’Quin, Associate Dean and the Women in Science and Mathematics Series at Buffalo State College, which provided support for DKP during the writing of this paper. This project was funded by Grant Number 45613 from the Wisconsin Division of Natural Resources.

Supplementary material

10750_2012_1238_MOESM1_ESM.doc (267 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 267 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Y. Karatayev
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lyubov E. Burlakova
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Jake Vander Zanden
    • 3
  • Richard C. Lathrop
    • 3
    • 4
  • Dianna K. Padilla
    • 5
  1. 1.Great Lakes CenterBuffalo State CollegeBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.The Research Foundation of The State University of New YorkBuffalo State College, Office of Sponsored ProgramsBuffaloUSA
  3. 3.Center for LimnologyUniversity of Wisconsin—MadisonMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Wisconsin Department of Natural ResourcesMadisonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Ecology and EvolutionStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

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