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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Daphniaperformance on diets containing different combinations of high-quality algae, heterotrophic bacteria, and allochthonous particulate organic matter

Wenzel, Anja; Vrede, Tobias; Jansson, Mats; Bergstrom, Ann-Kristin


Filter-feeding zooplankton in lakes feed on a mixture of phytoplankton, bacteria, and terrestrial particles and the proportions and nutritional value of these components can be highly variable. However, the extent to which food quality interacts with food quantity in affecting overall zooplankton performance is not yet fully resolved. Here we performed laboratory feeding experiments to test how the performance of the unselective filter feederDaphnia galeatawas affected if various quantities of high-quality food (the phytoplanktonRhodomonas) were diluted with low-quality food such as heterotrophic bacteria (Pseudomonas) or terrestrial detritus particles (t-POM) from the riparian zone of a boreal forest stream. We hypothesised: that increased proportions of bacteria and t-POM in the diet will lead to decreased survival, somatic growth; and reproduction ofDaphniadespite the presence of phytoplankton; that these effects are more pronounced for t-POM than for heterotrophic bacteria; and that this response is stronger when phytoplankton availability is low. Increasing the concentrations ofPseudomonasaffectedDaphniasurvival, growth, and reproduction negatively whenRhodomonaswas available at intermediate (0.37 mgC/L) and high (0.55 mgC/L) quantities. WhenRhodomonasquantity was low (0.22 mgC/L), the addition ofPseudomonasgenerally resulted in betterDaphniaperformance except at very high concentrations of the bacterium relative toRhodomonas. In contrast, the addition of t-POM was detrimental for overallDaphniaperformance at allRhodomonasconcentrations. Daphniaperformance was best described by a model including the interaction between food quality and quantity, with stronger negative effects onDaphniawhen high-quality food was supplemented with t-POM than withPseudomonas. The results indicate that the ability of zooplankton to use low-quality food is affected by the concurrent availability of high-quality food. Furthermore, food sources that can be used but do not fulfil dietary requirements of grazers (e.g. bacteria), may still provide nutritional benefits as long as other complementary food components are available in sufficient quantities to compensate for biochemical deficiencies. Therefore, we conclude that heterotrophic bacteria, but not peat layer t-POM, can be an important component of zooplankton diets in boreal lakes, especially if the concentration of phytoplankton is low.


boreal forest detritus; Daphnia galeata; food quality; Pseudomonassp; Rhodomonas lacustris

Published in

Freshwater Biology
2020, volume: 66, number: 1, pages: 157-168
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Wenzel, Anja
Helmholtz Association
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Jansson, Mats
Umea University
Bergstrom, Ann-Kristin
Umea University

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