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Can small-bodied Daphnia control Raphidiopsis raciborskii in eutrophic tropical lakes? A mesocosm experiment

Abstract

Raphidiopsis raciborskii is being considered an expanding, invasive species all over the world. It is a potentially toxin producer cyanobacterium and form blooms specially in (sub)tropical lakes, causing concern to public health. Thus, controlling such phenomena are of vital importance. To test the hypothesis that a tropical clone of Daphnia laevis is able to reduce the biomass of R. raciborskii, we performed a mesocosm experiment simulating a bloom of this cyanobacterium in field conditions and exposing it to ecologically relevant densities of daphniids. In addition, we tested the hypothesis that omnivorous fish would be able to exert a top-down effect on Daphnia, decreasing the effectiveness of this control. We used treatments with (10 and 20 Daphnia L-1) or without Daphnia and fish (3 per mesocosm). Daphnia was able to significantly reduce the biomass of R. raciborskii only at the highest density tested. Fish had low effect on Daphnia biomass, but it is suggested that nutrient recycling by fish might have contributed to the higher R. raciborskii biomass in fish treatments. This is the first evidence of Daphnia control over saxitoxin-producing cyanobacteria in a tropical ecosystem.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the State water supply and wastewater company (CEDAE) by allowing us to carry out the experiment in their decantation tanks and for all logistic and analysis of nutrients. We thank also Prof. Heitor Evangelista from the State University of Rio de Janeiro for providing the mesocosms and Fabio Q. Abreu and Diego A. C. da Silva for the help with mounting and demounting of the mesocosms.

Funding

This study was supported by Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (PAEF no. IOC-008-FIO-04).

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Highlights

Effects of Daphnia laevis and fish on cyanobacterial biomass were tested in mesocosms. Daphnia significantly reduced the biomass of R. raciborskii only at 20 individuals/L. Fish had low effect on Daphnia biomass and likely affected cyanobacteria by N/P. This is the first evidence of Daphnia control over saxitoxin-producing cyanobacteria.

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Ferrão-Filho, A.S., Pereira, U.J., Vilar, M.C. et al. Can small-bodied Daphnia control Raphidiopsis raciborskii in eutrophic tropical lakes? A mesocosm experiment. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 35459–35473 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-09737-6

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Keywords

  • Cyanobacteria
  • Zooplankton
  • Toxins
  • Top-down control
  • Biomanipulation