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Temporal changes in zooplankton composition in a hypersaline, Antarctic lake subject to periodic seawater incursions


Colonisation of Lake Fletcher, a hypersaline, meromictic lake in the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica, by the calanoid copepod Drepanopus bispinosus, the cyclopoid copepod Oncea curvata and an undescribed cydippid ctenophore is discussed. In 1978, salinity directly under the ice was 66‰ and repeated net hauls found no zooplankton. In 1983, adults of D. bispinosus were found, and in 1984, a reproductively active population of this species. Surface water salinity in 1984 was 56‰. During winter 1986, surface salinity was 54‰ and three zooplankton species (D. bispinosus, O. curvata and an undescribed cydippid ctenophore) had established populations in the lake. In 1986/87, high tides caused nearby Taynaya Bay to flood into the lake, and three further species (the calanoid, Paralabidocera antarctica, and two harpacticoids, Harpacticus furcatus and Idomene sp.) were found in the lake. It appears that periodic flooding after 1978 caused a salinity decrease in the lake from 66 to 54‰, and this enabled some invertebrate species to maintain year-round populations, whereas others require marine incursions to re-establish summer only populations.

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Eslake, D., Kirkwood, R., Burton, H. et al. Temporal changes in zooplankton composition in a hypersaline, Antarctic lake subject to periodic seawater incursions. Hydrobiologia 210, 93–99 (1991).

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Key words

  • zooplankton
  • hypersaline
  • Antarctica
  • marine incursions