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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 49:87-100 (2007)  -  DOI:

Regulation of planktonic ciliate dynamics and functional composition during spring in Lake Constance

Katrin Tirok*, Ursula Gaedke

University of Potsdam, Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Modelling, Am Neuen Palais 10, 14469 Potsdam, Germany

ABSTRACT: Protozoans are among the most important grazers of phytoplankton and remineralizers of nutrients in marine and freshwater ecosystems, but less is known about the regulation of their population dynamics. We analyzed a 12 yr data set of ciliate biomass and species composition in large, deep Lake Constance to understand the factors influencing ciliate spring development. The start of ciliate net growth in spring was closely linked to that of edible algae, chlorophyll a and the vertical mixing intensity, but independent of water temperature. During ciliate spring growth, the relative contribution of ciliated interception feeders was positively related to that of cryptomonads, whereas the relative contribution of filter feeders correlated positively with that of non-cryptomonads. The duration of ciliate dominance in spring was largely controlled by the highly variable onset of the phytoplankton bloom, as the termination of the ciliate bloom was less variable. During years with an extended spring bloom of algae and ciliates, internally forced species shifts were observed in both communities. Interception feeders alternated with filter feeders in their relative importance as did cryptomonads and non-cryptomonads. Extended spring blooms were observed when vertical mixing intensity was low at low temperatures during early spring, which will become less likely under the anticipated climate change scenarios. The termination of the ciliate spring bloom occurred prior to a reduction in food concentration and mostly also prior to the mass development of daphnids alone, but coincided with increased grazing by various predators together, such as rotifers, copepods and daphnids in late May/early June.

KEY WORDS: Plankton spring succession · Species shift · Predator–prey relationship · Deep lake · Edible algae · Climate change

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Cite this article as: Tirok K, Gaedke U (2007) Regulation of planktonic ciliate dynamics and functional composition during spring in Lake Constance. Aquat Microb Ecol 49:87-100.

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