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Ecol Appl. 2008 Dec;18(8):1850-9.

Recovery after local extinction: factors affecting re-establishment of alpine lake zooplankton.

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  • 1Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, University of California, HCR 79, Box 198, Mammoth Lakes, California 93546, USA.


The introduction of fishes into naturally fishless mountain lakes often results in the extirpation of large-bodied zooplankton species. The ability to predict whether or not particular species will recover following fish removal is critically important for the design and implementation of lake restoration efforts but is currently not possible because of a lack of information on what factors affect recovery. The objective of this study was to identify the factors influencing recovery probability in two large-bodied zooplankton species following fish removal. We predicted that (1) Daphnia melanica would have a higher probability of recovery than Hesperodiaptomus shoshone due to differences in reproductive mode (D. melanica is parthenogenetic, H. shoshone is obligately sexual), (2) recovery probability would be a decreasing function of fish residence time due to the negative relationship between fish residence time and size of the egg bank, and (3) recovery probability would be an increasing function of lake depth as a consequence of a positive relationship between lake depth and egg bank size. To test these predictions, we sampled contemporary zooplankton populations and collected paleolimnological data from 44 naturally fishless lakes that were stocked with trout for varying lengths of time before reverting to a fishless condition. D. melanica had a significantly higher probability of recovery than did H. shoshone (0.82 vs. 0.54, respectively). The probability of recovery for H. shoshone was also significantly influenced by lake depth, fish residence time, and elevation, but only elevation influenced the probability of recovery in D. melanica. These results are consistent with between-species differences in reproductive mode combined with the much greater longevity of diapausing eggs in D. melanica than in H. shoshone. Our data also suggest that H. shoshone will often fail to recover in lakes with fish residence times exceeding 50 years.

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