Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 253–266 | Cite as

Cladoceran remains reveal presence of a keystone size-selective planktivore

Original paper


We tested the use of cladoceran remains as a proxy for the presence and life history type of alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) from pre-colonial times to present in a group of coastal lakes in southern New England. Alewife are a keystone predator that structure the zooplankton community through strong predation on large-bodied zooplankton species, which releases small zooplankton species, such as Bosmina spp., from competition and predation pressure. In southern New England there are lakes without alewife, lakes with anadromous alewife that only reside in lakes during the summer, and lakes with landlocked alewife that reside in lakes year-round. The entire zooplankton community of these lakes is structured differently based on the presence and type of alewife they contain. We examined differences in the morphology of Bosmina spp. from sediment core samples and contemporary zooplankton samples between lakes with different types of alewife. We found that there were significant differences in the morphology of Bosmina spp. between lakes with and without alewife. We also used discriminant analysis on the morphology of Bosmina spp. to classify lakes in terms of alewife presence and alewife type. We found that the morphology of Bosmina spp. can serve as a useful proxy for detecting the presence, but not the life history type of alewife from paleoecological and contemporary inferences.


Cladoceran remains Bosmina spp. Size-selective predation Alewife 



We thank Christoph Geiss, Michael Oleskewicz, and Derek West for assistance with coring, Elizabeth Hatton for assistance with sample preparation, Suzanne Alonzo for use of equipment, and Helmut Ernstberger, Gaboury Benoit, Troy Hill, and Peter Raymond for assistance with dating cores. This work was funded by a Yale Environmental Summer Fellowship, a Richter Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship, a Mellon Undergraduate Research Grant, a Yale Environmental Studies Program Grant, and a Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Summer Globalization Internship and Research Grant to C.W.T. Comments provided by two anonymous reviewers and Isabel Larocque improved this paper.

Supplementary material

10933_2012_9672_MOESM1_ESM.docx (41 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 41 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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