, Volume 684, Issue 1, pp 177–187 | Cite as

Live labeling technique reveals contrasting role of crustacean predation on microbial loop in two large shallow lakes

  • Helen AgasildEmail author
  • Priit Zingel
  • Tiina Nõges
Primary Research Paper


We tested the hypotheses that the ciliate assemblages in moderately eutrophic lake are controlled by the effective crustacean predation, and the high abundances of planktonic ciliates in highly eutrophic and turbid lake are due to insufficient regulation by crustacean zooplankton. A food tracer method coupled with natural assemblage of microciliates labeled with fluorescent microparticles was used to measure the cladoceran and copepod predation rates on planktonic ciliates and to estimate the carbon flow between the ciliate–crustacean trophic links. The results revealed that the microciliates (15–40 μm) were consumed by all dominant cladoceran and copepod species in both the lakes studied, mainly by Chydorus sphaericus and cyclopoid copepods in Lake Võrtsjärv, and by Daphnia spp. and Bosmina spp. in Lake Peipsi. The grazing loss in moderately eutrophic Peipsi indicated strong top-down control of ciliates mainly by cladocerans. The extraordinary abundant population of planktonic ciliates having a predominant role in the food web in highly eutrophic and turbid Võrtsjärv is explained by the measured low crustacean predation rates on ciliates. The estimated carbon flow from the ciliates to crustaceans suggest that in eutrophic lakes majority of the organic matter channeled via metazooplankton to higher trophic levels may originate from the microbial loop.


Zooplankton feeding Microbial loop Ciliates Predation Trophic link 



Funding for this research was provided by the Estonian Ministry of Education (SF 0170011508), and the Estonian Science Foundation grants 8511 and 8969. The authors are grateful to anonymous referees for their valuable comments and suggestions that helped us improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Limnology, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesEstonian University of Life SciencesRannuEstonia
  2. 2.Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal SciencesEstonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia

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