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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 251:181-189 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps251181

Consequences of climate-induced salinity increases on zooplankton abundance and diversity in coastal lakes

Marc Schallenberg*, Catherine J. Hall, Carolyn W. Burns

Department of Zoology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand

ABSTRACT: Intermittent saline intrusions are a common feature of many coastal lakes and wetlands. These ecosystems are often important sites of biodiversity, biological productivity, and ecosystem services such as the removal of sediment, nutrients, and contaminants from inflowing rivers. Predicted effects of global climate change, including sea level rise, are likely to intensify saline intrusions into such ecosystems. Analyses of taxonomic diversity and abundance of zooplankton at different salinities in Lake Waihola, South Island, New Zealand, are supported by results of laboratory studies of salinity tolerances of 3 crustacean taxa Gladioferens pectinatus, Boeckella hamata and Daphnia carinata obtained from the lake. The field and laboratory analyses show that severe perturbations of zooplankton community structure and abundance are caused by even minor saline intrusions into Lake Waihola that raise the salinity to >1.2 psu. Our analyses of Lake Waihola, and data from brackish ecosystems around the world, show that even relatively small increases in salinity levels can drive such systems to a state of depleted biodiversity and abundance, altering ecosystem functioning.

KEY WORDS: Zooplankton diversity · Zooplankton abundance · Climate change · Community structure · Shallow lake · Salinity · Lake Waihola · Saline intrusion

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