The effects of Bythotrephes longimanus and calcium decline on crustacean zooplankton communities in Canadian Shield lakes
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Declining calcium concentrations and invasion by Bythotrephes longimanus are two important, often co-occurring, stressors affecting Canadian Shield lakes. However, there has been no experimental examination of how they might jointly influence zooplankton communities. We conducted a 6-week field mesocosm experiment in Havelock Lake, Haliburton, Ontario, Canada to examine the individual and joint effects of Bythotrephes and calcium along a gradient ranging from 1.2 to 2.6 mg/l on zooplankton communities. Although densities of Bythotrephes in our study are unknown, it significantly reduced total zooplankton abundance in invaded compared to uninvaded treatments by 46%, with the greatest impacts on small cladocerans and daphniids. Low calcium reduced total zooplankton and cladoceran abundances. Although Havelock Lake has the lowest calcium concentration among invaded lakes in the Muskoka–Haliburton region (1.2 mg Ca/l), an effect of calcium on individual species abundances was not detected. Additionally, we did not detect an interactive effect of both stressors. Our results suggest that lake calcium concentration may not yet be low enough to effect a strong response. However, as Bythotrephes continue to invade low calcium lakes, and as calcium concentrations further decline, we may see larger impacts on cladocerans as calcium thresholds for reproduction and growth are reached.
KeywordsHardness Base cation Crustacea Invasive species Boreal lakes Multiple stressors
This study was supported by the NSERC Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network II and the E. G. Bauman Fellowship from Queen's University to S. Azan. We thank the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Dorset Environmental Science Centre and its staff, especially Keith Somers, Jim Rusak, Don Evans, Ron Ingram, Rick Mercks, Cathy Thomson, Peter Sutey, and Ron Xiu for logistical support, water chemistry analyses, and advice. We also thank the Haliburton Forest Reserve and Vincent Murphy and family for access to Havelock Lake. We are grateful to Philip Anderson, Adam Sprott, Alex Ross, and Sarah Hasnain for assistance in the field, and James Sinclair, Michele Nicholson, and the two anonymous reviewers for editorial comments that improved this manuscript.
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