Interactions between metazoans, autotrophs, mixotrophs and bacterioplankton in nutrient‐depleted high DOC environments: a long‐term experiment

  • 1. Humic lakes with a high external supply of DOC and low input of nutrients can often support a high biomass of metazoan zooplankton. In such lakes, autotrophic algae compete with bacteria for inorganic nutrients, but bacteria support mixotrophic growth. Consequently, planktonic communities are often dominated by mixotrophic flagellates, while obligate autotrophic phytoplankton occurs in low numbers for extended periods. 2. To test the importance of autotrophic phytoplankton and mixotrophic flagellates as food resources for metazoan grazers and, in turn, the feedback effects of grazers on basal food‐web interactions, we conducted a long‐term experiment where we simulated abiotic resource relationships of humic lakes (high DOC [glucose] and low P input). We examined the population dynamics of Daphnia galeata when inoculated in systems with autotrophic algae only, mixotrophic algae only and a mixture of autotrophic and mixotrophic algae, and how the systems changed after the inoculation of Daphnia. All combinations were run at high‐ and low‐light conditions to analyse the effects of light on food quantity and quality. 3. Daphnia grew to high densities only when mixotrophs were present at high‐light conditions and showed no or only weak growth at low‐light conditions or with autotrophs as the only food source. 4. Autotrophic algae and bacteria showed a strong competition for nutrients. Autotrophic algae were released from competition for nutrients after Daphnia grazed on bacteria, which led to a probable change of the bacteria community to less edible but less competitive taxa. As a consequence, there was a mutualistic interaction between autotrophs and mixotrophs before Daphnia were introduced which turned into competition after Daphnia inoculation. 5. We suggest that mixotrophic flagellates can be a critical resource for cladocerans and thereby also have a cascading effect on higher trophic levels, and cladocerans, in turn, have important indirect effects on basal planktonic food webs; hence, both might affect whole lake ecosystems.

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Author:Christoph G. JägerORCiD, T. Vrede, L. Persson, M. Jansson
Parent Title (English):Freshwater Biology
Document Type:Article (peer reviewed)
Publication Year:2014
Tag:Daphnia; Dinobryon; Food quality; Indirect effects; Scenedesmus
First Page:1596
Last Page:1607
Peer reviewed:Ja
faculties / departments:Forschung und Entwicklung
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie