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Finding the optimal vertical distribution: behavioural responses of Daphnia pulicaria to gradients of environmental factors and the presence of fish

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Larsson,  Petter
Department Ecophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Limnology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Lampert,  W.
Emeritus Group Lampert, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Larsson, P., & Lampert, W. (2012). Finding the optimal vertical distribution: behavioural responses of Daphnia pulicaria to gradients of environmental factors and the presence of fish. Freshwater Biology, 57(12), 2514-2525. doi:10.1111/fwb.12024.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-0CA8-B
Abstract
1. The vertical distribution of zooplankton results from active habitat choice aiming to optimise fitness gain in a system of trade-offs. 2. Using large, controlled indoor mesocosms (Plo¨n Plankton Towers), we monitored the behavioural response of Daphnia pulicaria to vertical gradients of temperature, food, oxygen and light, in the presence and absence of fish predation. 3. In the absence of fish, Daphnia distributed as predicted by an ideal ‘free distribution with costs’. If the food was distributed homogeneously, they stayed in the warm epilimnion, while they balanced their time dwelling in epi- and hypolimnion if the food was concentrated in a deep-water maximum. 4. However, oxygen depletion in the hypolimnion, representing an additional cost, prevented Daphnia from completely exploiting the hypolimnetic food maximum. Consequently, the proportion dwelling in the hypolimnion was larger if oxygen was not limiting. 5. Fish predation had an overwhelming effect, driving Daphnia into the hypolimnion under all experimental conditions. If permitted by oxygen availability, Daphnia used the whole hypolimnion, but oxygen depletion reduced their possible habitat to the upper hypolimnion with oxygen concentrations above c. 0.7 mg L)1. As fish were less tolerant of low oxygen, the layer below the thermocline formed a predation refuge for Daphnia