Effect of competition on the demography of planktonic cladocerans — Daphnia and Diaphanosoma

Research paper by V. F. Matveev

Indexed on: 01 Dec '87Published on: 01 Dec '87Published in: Oecologia


Isolated and mixed continuous cultures of Daphnia hyalina and Diaphanosoma brachyurum in lake water were maintained under laboratory conditions to elucidate demographic effects of competition. Population dynamics curves were obtained. Interspecific competition was revealed by the decrease in the average density of animals in the mixed versus isolated cultures and by the extinction of one species in the presence of the other. Within the first 50 days either Diaphanosoma (4 cases) or Daphnia (1 case) was the superior competitor, depending on the initial conditions. Further cultivation resulted in the extinction of Diaphanosoma in the mixed cultures. There were no statistically significant differences between the maximum rates of population increase (rm) in Daphnia and Diaphanosoma at the concentration of edible algae about 2·105 μm3ml-1(0.293 and 0.286 days-1, respectively). Time lags for density-dependent parameters of the populations were evaluated by means of rank cross-correlations. Regardless of the species identity the time lags of fecundity, birth rate, and the rate of population growth were significantly higher in the superior competitor. The initial conditions of culturing affected the time lags which in their turn influenced the outcome of the interaction. Enhanced competitive ability due to the maximized time lags in Daphnia was not associated with the loss of population stability. Conversely, it brought about destabilization of Diaphanosoma populations which seemed to be the ultimate cause of its extinction observed in the end of the experiment. Time lag of the population growth rate was well predicted based on the half-sum of time lags in birth and death rates (r2=0.80, P<0.001). Daphnia responded to competition with a sharp shortening of the time lags of fecundity, birth rate, and the population growth rate. It increased clutch size and showed inverse relationship between the fecundity time lag and average fecundity even though it was strongly suppressed by Diaphanosoma. The competitive ability was not related to the percentage of adults in the populations. In contrast to the current belief the major result of interspecific competition in the experiment was not a decrease in the rate of population growth but was a reduction in population time lags.