The impact of pH on interactions among phytoplankton algae, zooplankton and perch (Perca fluviatilis) in a shallow, fertile lake



    1. Department of Environmental & Evolutionary Biology, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3BX, U.K
    2. Department of Biology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, 06531, Turkey
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    1. Department of Environmental & Evolutionary Biology, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3BX, U.K
    Search for more papers by this author


1. The combined effects of increasing pH (< 9–11) and increasing densities of perch (0, two, four per enclosure) have been investigated in polyethylene enclosures of volume about 1100 1 in a shallow, fertile lake in Cheshire.

2. Increasing pH decreased carbon dioxide concentrations, chlorophyll a concentrations and diatom biomass. It led to increases in the proportions of Cryptophyta (to pH 10) and Chlorophyta (to pH 11). Although ample inocula were present, significant growths of cyanophytes were not recorded, contrary to expectation.

3. Increasing pH led to increases in numbers of Daphnia hyalina particularly at pH 10 but collapse at pH 11. This persistence at pH 10, independent of perch number, is attributed to reduced feeding of the fish, which survived at this pH. Other zooplankters (Ceriodaphnia spp., Bosmina longirostris, Polyphemus pediculus, Cyclops spp.) all declined with increasing pH.

4. Increasing fish density resulted in an increase in chlorophyll a concentration and in the biomass of Chlorophyta but had no effect on cyanophyte or cryptophyte biomass.

5. Increasing fish density led to declines in Daphnia in the untreated lake-water controls (pH < 9) and at pH 9, but had no effect at pH 10 where Daphnia hyalina was very abundant. Numbers of Ceriodaphnia spp. and Bosmina longirostris increased with increasing fish density, whilst numbers of Polyphemus pediculus and Cyclops spp. were independent of it.

6. The results are discussed in the light of contemporary knowledge of the factors resulting in large cyanophyte growths and of the factors controlling the stability of macrophyte-dominated and phytoplankton-dominated states in shallow lakes. The interaction between pH and fish density and consequent non-linear response of Daphnia hyalina is particularly notable because of the significance of zooplankton grazing in shallow lakes.