Response of zooplankton to nutrient enrichment and fish in shallow lakes: a pan-European mesocosm experiment


Timo Kairesalo, Department of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Niemenkatu 73 C, FIN-15140 Lahti, Finland.


1. Responses of zooplankton to nutrient enrichment and fish predation were studied in 1998 and 1999 by carrying out parallel mesocosm experiments in six lakes across Europe.

2. Zooplankton community structure, biomass and responses to nutrient and fish manipulation showed geographical and year-to-year differences. Fish had a greater influence than nutrients in regulating zooplankton biomass and especially the relative abundances of different functional groups of zooplankton. When fish reduced the biomass of large crustaceans, there was a complementary increase in the biomasses of smaller crustacean species and rotifers.

3. High abundance of submerged macrophytes provided refuge for zooplankton against fish predation but this refuge effect differed notably in magnitude among sites.

4. Large crustacean grazers (Daphnia, Diaphanosoma, Sida and Simocephalus) were crucial in controlling algal biomass, while smaller crustacean grazers and rotifers were of minor importance. Large grazers were able to control phytoplankton biomass even under hypereutrophic conditions (up to 1600 μg TP L−1) when grazer biomass was high (>80–90 μg dry mass L−1) or accounted for >30% of the grazer community.

5. The littoral zooplankton community was less resistant to change following nutrient enrichment in southern Spain, at high temperatures (close to 30 °C), than at lower temperatures (17–23 °C) characterising the other sites. This lower resistance was because of a greater importance of nutrients than zooplankton in controlling algal biomass.

6. Apart from the reduced role of large crustacean grazers at the lowest latitude, no consistent geographical patterns were observed in the responses of zooplankton communities to nutrient and fish manipulation.