• primary production;
  • bacterioplankton;
  • protozooplankton;
  • metazooplankton;
  • PEG-model


An analysis of plankton seasonal succession in large shallow eutrophic lake Võrtsjärv (270 km2, mean depth 2.8 m, max. depth 6 m) is presented. Weekly samples for 1995 have been analysed using the PEG model approach. In winter, light was the main factor controlling phytoplankton growth. In early spring phytoplankton was mainly resource-controlled, competition for phosphorus being the main driving force. Ciliates (Paradileptus sp., Strobilidium sp. and Vorticella sp.) were the first herbivores which started to increase in April causing a twofold decline of phytoplankton biomass. The annual maximum of primary production (PP) in early May was probably caused by soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), regenerated by herbivores, and stirred up from bottom sediments as a result of strong wind stress. This primary production peak provided substrate for further increase of bacterial biomass. The more abundant food supply supported the development of the second spring peak of herbivores (ciliates, rotifers, juvenile copepods) which was followed by the second modest “clear water phase” in late May. Silicon was depleted by the end of May causing a strong decrease in primary production of the diatom-dominated community, whereas the biomass of the cyanophytes increased under the improved nutrient conditions. Some weeks later, inorganic N was depleted and the period of N limitation with the appearance of N-fixing cyanophytes began. The ciliate collapse at the beginning of June coincided with the start of the cladoceran development and with the increase of other metazooplankton groups. This explains the further decrease of the biomass of phytoplankton and bacteria in spite of their high production. Beginning from late June, silicon appeared again and SRP started to occur periodically, while inorganic N remained close to zero until November. During this period, phytoplankton development relied to a great extent on the N-fixation and N-regeneration potential. The collapse of the ciliate community in September removed the top-down control from bacteria and their biomass increased, while the development of cladocerans still suppressed phytoplankton biomass in spite of a quite high PP. In October phytoplankton biomass and chlorophyll a (Chla) increased, SRP was completely depleted by the middle of October reflecting a slow regeneration due to the declined activity of zooplankton in cold water. In November nitrates appeared again, and silicon reached the same level as in spring. The biomass of N-fixing Aphanizomenon skujae decreased while Limnothrix redekei and L. planctonica were quite abundant together with diatoms.