The effects of selective fish predation on the horizontal distribution of pelagic Cladocera in a southern French reservoir

Research paper by Didier Pont, Jamila Amrani

Indexed on: 01 Nov '90Published on: 01 Nov '90Published in: Hydrobiologia


A four-year study showed a clear seasonal succession of species within the cladoceran community of the large, oligotrophic Sainte-Croix reservoir (S.E. France). Diaphanosoma brachyurum and Ceriodaphnia pulchella were strictly limited to the warm stratified period (July to October), whereas Bosmina longirostris and Bosmina coregoni were dominant during spring and autumn. Daphnia longispina was the only species to occur throughout the year with higher densities in spring.In spring and late autumn, the discharge of the inflowing river Verdon was high and the abundance of all species showed a gradient over the whole lake with lower densities close to the inflow. During the stratified period, water inflow was very low and species showed different patterns. Densities of the small form Ceriodaphnia pulchella were similar all along the long axis of the lake, whereas Daphnia densities were significantly higher near the dam. The distribution pattern of Diaphanosoma, an intermediate-sized species, showed similar trends to that of Daphnia. The only planktivorous fish in the pelagic zone, the bleak (Alburnus alburnus), fed mostly on large-bodied species (> 1.0 mm) and was more abundant close to the inflow current. A comparison between the length frequency distributions of cladocera upstream and downstream provided a clear demonstration of the effects of size-selective predation on prey populations. Finally, the interactions between spatial heterogeneity and long-term development of the zooplankton community and the indirect effects of predation are discussed.