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Research article2013Peer reviewed

Community structure in boreal lakes with recurring blooms of the nuisance flagellate Gonyostomum semen

Johansson, Karin; Trigal, Cristina; Vrede, Tobias; Johnson, Richard


Blooms of the nontoxic raphidophyte Gonyostomum semen have shown a recent increase in frequency and distribution in the Fennoscandian region. Due to large cell size and several grazer-avoidance strategies, G. semen is hypothesized to be inedible for most zooplankton species and therefore may constitute a bottleneck for the transfer of energy and nutrients in pelagic food webs. Repression of other phytoplankton through increased competition and induced mortality could further exacerbate this effect. In a field study of four lakes with recurring blooms of G. semen and four lakes without blooms, we found significant differences in community structure between the two lake groups during the bloom period. Bloom-lakes had lower biovolumes of small chrysophytes and chlorophytes and zooplankton assemblages were predominated by small, potentially bacterivorous cladocerans, suggesting a limited availability of edible phytoplankton and an increased importance of microbial pathways during G. semen blooms. Low biovolumes of large cladocerans in bloom-lakes may be due to interference of G. semen with filter feeding. Moreover, high abundances of the phantom midge Chaoborus flavicans in bloom-lakes suggest that the flow of energy and nutrients is directed more towards this invertebrate predator than fish. This could have negative impacts on fish populations, especially if bloom periods are prolonged.


Algal blooms; Phytoplankton; Zooplankton; Benthic Invertebrates; Raphidophyceae

Published in

Aquatic Sciences - Research Across Boundaries
2013, Volume: 75, number: 3, pages: 447-455