Hydrological Connectivity as a Shaping Force in the Zooplankton Community of Two Lakes in the Paraná River Floodplain



Zooplankton in two river-lake systems of the Paraná River (Argentina) floodplain were studied during ordinary hydrological situations as well as during an extreme flood (El Niño event) over a period of more than 20 years. The studied lakes were selected because of their position at opposite ends of a surface connectivity gradient. Los Matadores Lake, with high connectivity, has a direct connection to the river via a short channel that is active during a large part of the year. At the other extreme, the low connectivity El Tigre Lake has an indirect connection to the river through a swampy area that is only active for short periods. During ordinary hydrologic periods, zooplankton abundance and species richness appear to be controlled by the degree of connectivity of the lakes. Abundance was higher in El Tigre, which is isolated for longer periods and consequently has a longer water-residence time. Contrary to expectations, species richness was also higher in this lake, a result that was surprising because water bodies with low conectivity/disturbance are predicted to have a lower biodiversity. This unexpected outcome reflects the nature of the connecting route, which crosses a long and complex swampy ecotone. (© 2008 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)