The cyanobacterium cylindrospermopsis raciborskii is facilitated by copepod selective grazing

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Journal Article
Harmful Algae, 2013, 29 pp. 14 - 21
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Blooms of the toxin-producing cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii occur in tropical and subtropical lakes during spring-summer but the mechanisms behind bloom formation are unclear. This study tests the hypothesis that C. raciborskii accumulations in freshwater systems are facilitated by selective copepod grazing. Prey selection was examined in a series of experiments with C. raciborskii and the green alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, as well as within natural phytoplankton assemblages. Clearance rates of the copepod Boeckella sp. on a C. raciborskii diet were 2-4 times lower than that of a common cladoceran Ceriodaphnia sp. when both grazers had prey choice. More C. raciborskii was cleared by Boeckella sp. when in mixed natural phytoplankton assemblages, but the clearance rate declined when nutrient replete C. reinhardtii was added, demonstrating that when alternate "high quality" algae were present, so did C. raciborskii consumption. The clearance rates of Boeckella sp. on two toxic C. raciborskii strains were significantly lower than on a non-toxic strain, and on C. raciborskii with low cellular P content. When we tested the grazing preference of a copepod dominated mixed zooplankton community on C. raciborskii during the early bloom period, clearance rates were relatively low (0.05-0.20mlindividual-1h-1), and decreased significantly as the proportion of C. raciborskii increased above 5%. These results suggest that C. raciborskii persistence could be promoted by copepods preferentially grazing on other algae, with significant loss of top-down control as C. raciborskii abundance increases. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
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