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Keywords:

  • Bythotrephes;
  • cold-water planktivore;
  • Coregonus artedi;
  • vertical migration

Summary

1. The weak diel vertical migration observed in the large cladoceran Bythotrephes longimanus seems contradictory to the predator-avoidance hypothesis that predicts large zooplankton should have long migration amplitudes. However, cold-water planktivores, especially Coregonus spp., are a main source of mortality for Bythotrephes and hence a deeper migration would result in a greater overlap with these hypolimnetic planktivores. We hypothesized that Coregonus artedi (cisco) modifies the normal vertical migration pattern of Bythotrephes, such that the latter stays higher in the water column during the day and thus migrates less extremely at night.

2. The vertical distribution of Bythotrephes during the day was determined from single visits to six lakes in Ontario, Canada, all of which contain warm-water, epilimnetic planktivores but differing in whether they contain cisco. One lake of each fish type was sampled day and night every 2–3 weeks over the ice-free season to examine daytime depths and migration amplitude.

3. The vertical migration of Bythotrephes differed in the presence and absence of cisco. In the lakes with cisco, there were significantly fewer Bythotrephes in the hypolimnion and they were higher in the water column during the day. Migration amplitude was smaller in the cisco than in the non-cisco lake. These observations were not attributable to differences in physical factors, and, although not conclusively attributable to cisco, are consistent with an effect of cisco.

4. We suggest that diurnal depth selection by Bythotrephes in lakes containing cisco is a trade-off between the risk of predation by warm- versus cold-water predators, balanced by the benefits of increased temperature and feeding rates near the surface. Even in lakes without cisco, however, the vertical migration of Bythotrephes was less than expected, suggesting that diurnal depth selection is a balance between the risk from warm-water planktivores and access to sufficient light to feed effectively.