Terrestrial support of zooplankton biomass in northern rivers

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The contribution of terrestrially derived carbon to micro-crustacean zooplankton biomass (i.e., allochthony) has been previously studied in lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries, but little is known about zooplankton allochthony in rivers. In lacustrine environments, allochthony is regulated by distinct selective feeding behavior of different taxa. However, we hypothesized that restricted possibility for selective grazing in turbulent environments such as rivers would decouple zooplankton from specific microbial and algal food resources, such that their allochthony would mirror the terrestrial contribution to the surrounding bulk particle pool. We tested this idea by analyzing allochthony in 13 widely distributed Swedish rivers, using a dual-isotope mixing model. Zooplankton biomasses were generally low, and allochthony in different micro-crustacean groups (Cladocera, Cyclopoida, Calanoida) varied from 2% to 77%. As predicted, there were no correlations between allochthony and variables indicating the supply of algal and microbial food resources, such as chlorophyll a and bacterial production. Instead, the allochthony was generally similar to the share allochthonous contribution in bulk particulate organic matter, with relationships close to the 1: 1 line. The zooplankton community allochthony was strongly regulated by the ecosystem metabolic balance between production and respiration, which in turn was dependent upon the ratio between total autochthonous organic carbon concentrations and water color. Our study for the first time shows that micro-crustacean allochthony is regulated differently in rivers compared to in lacustrine systems, and points to inefficient support of zooplankton biomass by algal resources in turbulent waters.


External organisations
  • Umeå University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2479-2492
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 5
Publication categoryResearch