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Controlling harmful cyanobacteria : Taxa-specific responses of cyanobacteria to grazing by large-bodied Daphnia in a biomanipulation scenario

  • Pablo Urrutia-Cordero
  • Mattias K. Ekvall
  • Lars Anders Hansson
Publishing year: 2016-04-01
Language: English
Publication/Series: PLoS ONE
Volume: 11
Issue: 4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Public Library of Science

Abstract english

Lake restoration practices based on reducing fish predation and promoting the dominance of large-bodied Daphnia grazers (i.e., biomanipulation) have been the focus of much debate due to inconsistent success in suppressing harmful cyanobacterial blooms. While most studies have explored effects of large-bodied Daphnia on cyanobacterial growth at the community level and/or on few dominant species, predictions of such restoration practices demand further understanding on taxa-specific responses in diverse cyanobacterial communities. In order to address these questions, we conducted three grazing experiments during summer in a eutrophic lake where the natural phytoplankton community was exposed to an increasing gradient in biomass of the large-bodied Daphnia magna. This allowed evaluating taxa-specific responses of cyanobacteria to Daphnia grazing throughout the growing season in a desired biomanipulation scenario with limited fish predation. Total cyanobacterial and phytoplankton biomasses responded negatively to Daphnia grazing both in early and late summer, regardless of different cyanobacterial densities. Large-bodied Daphnia were capable of suppressing the abundance of Aphanizomenon, Dolichospermum, Microcystis and Planktothrix bloom-forming cyanobacteria. However, the growth of the filamentous Dolichospermum crassum was positively affected by grazing during a period when this cyanobacterium dominated the community. The eutrophic lake was subjected to biomanipulation since 2005 and nineteen years of lake monitoring data (1996-2014) revealed that reducing fish predation increased the mean abundance (50%) and body-size (20%) of Daphnia, as well as suppressed the total amount of nutrients and the growth of the dominant cyanobacterial taxa, Microcystis and Planktothrix. Altogether our results suggest that lake restoration practices solely based on grazer control by large-bodied Daphnia can be effective, but may not be sufficient to control the overgrowth of all cyanobacterial diversity. Although controlling harmful cyanobacterial blooms should preferably include other measures, such as nutrient reductions, our experimental assessment of taxa-specific cyanobacterial responses to large-bodied Daphnia and long-term monitoring data highlights the potential of such biomanipulations to enhance the ecological and societal value of eutrophic water bodies.


  • Ecology


  • ISSN: 1932-6203
Lars-Anders Hansson
E-mail: lars-anders [dot] hansson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Aquatic ecology

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Aquatic Ecology

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Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

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