Linking biotic interactions and climate change to the success of exotic Daphnia lumholtzi


Samuel B. Fey, Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, U.S.A. E-mail:


1. Warmer temperatures may increase cyanobacterial blooms in freshwater ecosystems, yet few ecological studies examine how increases in temperature and cyanobacterial blooms will alter the performance of non-native species. We evaluated how competitive interactions and interactions between these two drivers of ecological change influence the performance of non-native species using the native zooplankton Daphnia pulex and the non-native zooplankton Daphnia lumholtzi as a model system. Based on the literature, we hypothesised that D. lumholtzi would perform best in warmer temperatures and in the presence of cyanobacteria.

2. Laboratory competition experiments showed that in the absence of competitors, growth rates of D. pulex (but not D. lumholtzi) were reduced at higher temperatures and with the cyanobacterial foods Anabaena flos-aquae and Microcystis aeruginosa. In the presence of competitors, however, D. pulex emerged as the superior resource competitor at both temperatures with cyanobacterial food. We therefore predicted that, if competitive interactions are important to its establishment, D. lumholtzi would perform best in the absence of cyanobacteria in heated environments.

3. As predicted, when both species were introduced at low densities in field mesocosms, D. lumholtzi performed best at high temperatures without added cyanobacteria and worst at ambient temperatures with added cyanobacteria, indicating that competitive interactions are likely to be important for its establishment.

4. Taken together, these studies indicate that, while D. lumholtzi may benefit from increases in temperature, associated increased cyanobacterial blooms may hinder its performance. Thus, our findings underscore the importance of considering biotic interactions such as competition when predicting the future establishment of non-native species in response to climate warming.