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Journal Article

Competition between two planktonic rotifer species at different temperatures: an experimental test


Stelzer,  Claus-Peter
Department Ecophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Limnology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Stelzer, C.-P. (2006). Competition between two planktonic rotifer species at different temperatures: an experimental test. Freshwater Biology, 51(12), 2187-2199. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2427.2006.01632.x.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-D81F-D
1. The effect of temperature on the outcome of resource competition between two planktonic rotifers (Synchaeta pectinata and Brachionus calyciflorus) was investigated in laboratory experiments. In addition to the competition experiments, several physiological variables and their temperature-dependence were characterised, including ingestion rate and starvation tolerance. 2. Because of a lower threshold food level (TFL) for population growth for the food algae Cryptomonas erosa, Synchaeta was predicted to be the superior competitor at low temperatures (12 degrees C). In contrast, Brachionus had a lower TFL at 20 degrees C and was predicted to be competitively superior at this temperature. 3. In both rotifer species, ingestion rates increased with temperature, but the increase was much more pronounced in Brachionus. Ingestion rates of Brachionus at temperatures from 8 to 24 degrees C were always higher than in Synchaeta (up to 4.6-fold). 4. Starvation resistance reduced with temperature in both rotifer species. At all temperatures investigated (12,16 and 20 degrees C) Brachionus could survive starvation for longer than Synchaeta. This difference was strongest at 12 degrees C (5.8 days versus 2.5 days). 5. In the first competition experiment, food was supplied at 48 h-intervals. Brachionus displaced Synchaeta at both experimental temperatures (12 and 20 degrees C). Competitive exclusion of Synchaeta at the lower temperature was probably because of large fluctuations in algal densities that resulted from the long intervals between feeding, a condition that favoured Brachionus because of its higher starvation resistance. 6. In the second competition experiment, one third of the food suspension was renewed every 8 h, resulting in a much better approximation to a continuous resource supply. At 12 degrees C Synchaeta and Brachionus coexisted for more than I month and the densities of both rotifer species were significantly lower in the presence of their competitor. In contrast to expectations, Brachionus was able to persist even when Cryptomonas concentrations fell below its TFL. This was probably because Brachionus was using detritus and associated bacteria as additional food sources, which were present in the cultures during the later phase of the experiment. 7. Autocorrelation analysis of the temporal changes in egg ratios revealed significant periodic cycles in Synchaeta during the second competition experiment. A possible explanation for this is the fecundity schedule of Synchaeta, in which reproduction is highly concentrated in a few age classes. According to demographic theory, such a life cycle feature can cause slower convergence to a stable age distribution.