Plankton food web structure in a eutrophic polymictic lake with a history in toxic cyanobacterial blooms

Moustaka-Gouni, Maria, Elisabeth Vardaka, Evangelia Michaloudi, Konstantinos Ar. Kormas, Eleni Tryfon, Helen Mihalatou, Spyros Gkelis, Tom Lanaras

Limnol. Oceanogr., 51(1_part_2), 2006, 715-727 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2006.51.1_part_2.0715

ABSTRACT: We studied the seasonal dynamics of phytoplankton, bacterioplankton, heterotrophic nanoflagellates, ciliates, and metazoan plankton in the highly eutrophic polymictic Lake Kastoria (Greece), which has a history of toxic cyanobacterial blooms. An acute increase in the flushing rate of the lake during spring inhibited cyanobacterial biomass accumulation. During this transient oligotrophic period, which was characterized by abundant lake snow particles, the plankton food web was an inverted biomass pyramid (low autotrophic biomass and high heterotrophic biomass). Prokaryotes played a key role in these changes (cyanobacteria during periods of autotrophy and bacteria during periods of heterotrophy). In summer and autumn, toxic cyanobacterial blooms developed, and the microbial loop was weak. The microbial loop was weak because the heterotrophic nanoflagellates and nanociliates decreased to undetectable densities during the summer, when larger bacterivores (rotifers and small cladocera) were abundant. Toxic blooms may have a dual effect on heterotrophic nanoplankton: negative during the first bloom and postbloom period and positive during a following toxic bloom. Different species (Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii, Aphanizomenon spp., and Microcystis aeruginosa) and succession phases of toxic blooms may differentially affect the microbial food web structure.

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