1. During recent decades, Gonyostomum semen populations have spread in northern temperate regions forming dense blooms that may dominate the phytoplankton assemblage for extended periods. In this study, we investigate the effects of G. semen blooms in boreal brown water lakes with special emphasis on phytoplankton, fish and benthic invertebrate assemblages using data from 10 boreal lakes sampled annually over a 10-year period.
2. Significant differences in phytoplankton and benthic invertebrate assemblages were found between lakes with high (3.01 mm3 L−1; >80% phytoplankton biomass) and lakes with low G. semen biomass (0.03 mm3 L−1; <5% phytoplankton biomass). In particular, high G. semen lakes had lower biomass of smaller, edible phytoplankton and a higher abundance and biomass of benthic invertebrates, especially Chaoborus flavicans, and perch than low G. semen lakes.
3. The length distribution of fish also suggested a tendency towards large and older fish and a lower recruitment success in high G. semen lakes, as denoted by lower abundances of fish shorter than 10 cm and higher biomass and abundance of fish longer than 15 cm in high G. semen lakes.
4. This study shows that high G. semen lakes are characterised by less edible phytoplankton, dominance by a few species and enhanced benthic secondary and fish production. Hence, the conjecture that high biomasses of G. semen create a bottleneck in the energy transfer to higher trophic levels seems less likely in boreal lakes.