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Water Res. 2017 Nov 1;124:618-629. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2017.07.078. Epub 2017 Aug 1.

Responses of trophic structure and zooplankton community to salinity and temperature in Tibetan lakes: Implication for the effect of climate warming.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China.
2
Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.
3
Department of Ecology, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China; Sino-Danish Centre for Education and Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.
4
Department of Bioscience and Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, 8600, Silkeborg, Denmark; Sino-Danish Centre for Education and Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.
5
Department of Ecology, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China. Electronic address: tbphan@jnu.edu.cn.

Abstract

Warming has pronounced effects on lake ecosystems, either directly by increased temperatures or indirectly by a change in salinity. We investigated the current status of zooplankton communities and trophic structure in 45 Tibetan lakes along a 2300 m altitude and a 76 g/l salinity gradient. Freshwater to hyposaline lakes mainly had three trophic levels: phytoplankton, small zooplankton and fish/Gammarus, while mesosaline to hypersaline lakes only had two: phytoplankton and large zooplankton. Zooplankton species richness declined significantly with salinity, but did not relate with temperature. Furthermore, the decline in species richness with salinity in lakes with two trophic levels was much less abrupt than in lakes with three trophic levels. The structural variation of the zooplankton community depended on the length of the food chain, and was significantly explained by salinity as the critical environmental variable. The zooplankton community shifted from dominance of copepods and small cladoceran species in the lakes with low salinity and three trophic levels to large saline filter-feeding phyllopod species in those lakes with high salinity and two trophic levels. The zooplankton to phytoplankton biomass ratio was positively related with temperature in two-trophic-level systems and vice versa in three-trophic-level systems. As the Tibetan Plateau is warming about three times faster than the global average, our results imply that warming could have a considerable impact on the structure and function of Tibetan lake ecosystems, either via indirect effects of salinization/desalinization on species richness, composition and trophic structure or through direct effects of water temperature on trophic interactions.

KEYWORDS:

Food chain; Plateau; Salinization; Species richness; Trophic cascade

PMID:
28822342
DOI:
10.1016/j.watres.2017.07.078
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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