Loch Leven is a shallow, eutrophic lake in the Scottish lowlands that is famous for its brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) fishery. Studies of planktonic rotifer populations began here in January 1977. Since then, samples have been collected and analysed at more or less weekly intervals. Additional information on the composition and abundance of phytoplankton and crustacean zooplankton species, and on a variety of physical and chemical determinants, has been recorded on each sampling occasion.
Long-term datasets, such as that described above, are invaluable for identifying interactions between components of the plankton that only appear for short periods each year, as these interactions would probably be overlooked in data spanning a shorter period of time. This study uses the long-term data from Loch Leven to examine the food and temperature requirements of the summer rotifer species Trichocerca pusilla (Lauterborn). The results suggest that T. pusilla prefers water temperatures above 12 °C and that it feeds, primarily, on the filamentous diatom Aulacoseira spp. During the summer months, its abundance was closely related to the availability of this diatom. When filaments of Aulacoseira spp. were abundant, rotifer densities reached 1000–3000 ind. l−1 and when they were scarce (e.g. 1980, 1997 and 1998) T. pusilla densities also remained low (i.e. less than 100 ind. l−1). The reason for the success or failure of Aulacoseira during the summer months each year is unclear but, in general, its abundance was related to the availability of dissolved silica in the water.
Trichocerca pusillarotifer Aulacoseiradiatom grazing silica water temperature Loch Leven