Effects of temperature and resource abundance on small- and large-bodied cladocerans: Community stability and species replacement


Understanding when small- or large-bodied cladocerans dominate zooplankton communities has received considerable debate over the past 50 years. While a large body of research has proposed that large-bodied species are superior competitors over small-bodied species, other studies have shown that small-bodied species can dominate at least under some environmental conditions. We tested the hypothesis that dominance by small- and large-bodied cladocerans varied in response to the coupled effects of food supply and temperature. Laboratory experiments with poly- and monocultures of small- and large-bodied cladocerans were performed at three temperatures (16°C, 22°C and 27°C) and with varying amounts of food supply. The results of the experiments showed that the small-bodied species (Ceriodaphnia quadrangula) dominated at low food supply and higher temperature, while the large-bodied species (Daphnia magna and Daphnia pulex) in contrast dominated at lower temperature and higher food supply. Furthermore, although there were variations in the relative biomass of the small- and large-bodied cladocerans in the polycultures, C. quandrangula replaced the two larger Daphnia species when they declined in biomass at low food supply. Species replacement in response to temperature and food supply helped to maintain the relatively constant level of total cladoceran biomass in the polycultures which was the most pronounced at the intermediate temperature. We suggest that the observed changes in dominance were similar to facilitative replacement rather than competitive exclusion. Physiological processes such as clearance rates can help to promote the succession of large- and small- bodied populations within a community along gradients of temperature and food availability.

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Feniova, I. , Palash, A. , Razlutskij, V. and Dzialowski, A. (2013) Effects of temperature and resource abundance on small- and large-bodied cladocerans: Community stability and species replacement. Open Journal of Ecology, 3, 164-171. doi: 10.4236/oje.2013.32020.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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