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Oecologia. 2004 Mar;138(4):603-12. Epub 2003 Dec 18.

Damaging UV radiation and invertebrate predation: conflicting selective pressures for zooplankton vertical distribution in the water column of low DOC lakes.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.


In nature most organisms have to manage conflicting demands of food gathering, predator avoidance, and finding a favorable abiotic environment (oxygen, temperature, etc.) in order to maximize their fitness. In the vertical water column of lakes with high solar ultraviolet radiation (UV) and invertebrate predators, zooplankton face two particularly strong and conflicting selective pressures. During daylight hours invertebrate predators often induce an upward vertical migration of zooplankton prey while potentially damaging UV forces a downward migration. We used 2.2 m long columns suspended vertically in a lake to conduct 2x2 factorial experiments to examine patterns of depth selection behavior by zooplankton in the presence and absence of both the invertebrate predator Chaoborus and UV. We hypothesized that Chaoborus and UV both affect the distribution of zooplankton and a combination of both factors would lead to a narrowing of depth distribution. We found that when Chaoborus were present zooplankton tended to be distributed at shallower depths in the columns, while in the presence of UV they exhibited a deeper distribution. Chaoborus themselves were always found near the bottom of the columns regardless of the UV treatment. Simultaneous exposure to predators and UV resulted in a peak of zooplankton (especially Daphnia catawba) distribution at intermediate depths. In a significant number of cases, depth range was narrowed in response to Chaoborus, UV, or both.

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