The relative importance of top‐down vs. bottom‐up control of phytoplankton biomass in aquatic ecosystems has been long debated and studied. However, few studies have considered the relative importance of top‐down vs. bottom‐up control on phytoplankton vertical distributions and characteristics of deep chlorophyll maxima (DCMs), and fewer still have investigated the importance of these drivers for multiple phytoplankton groups. We examined depth profiles of four phytoplankton spectral groups and a suite of top‐down (zooplankton) and bottom‐up (nutrients, temperature, and light) drivers from 51 north temperate lakes varying on gradients of size, trophic state, light availability, and thermal stratification. We used regression trees to identify the most important drivers of different vertical distribution metrics for each phytoplankton spectral group. The relative importance of top‐down vs. bottom‐up control varied across spectral groups and was related to the characteristics of the dominant taxa within each spectral group, as assessed by microscope counts. Zooplankton biomass was the most important driver of brown algae vertical distributions, likely because this group contained highly edible taxa (primarily chrysophytes), while thermal stratification predicted vertical distributions of buoyancy‐regulating cyanobacteria. Our work highlights the importance of examining phytoplankton community composition to improve understanding of DCM characteristics and top‐down vs. bottom‐upmore »
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Relative importance of top‐down vs. bottom‐up control of lake phytoplankton vertical distributions varies among fluorescence‐based spectral groups
Widespread variation in salt tolerance within freshwater zooplankton species reduces the predictability of community‐level salt tolerance
The salinization of freshwaters is a global threat to aquatic biodiversity. We quantified variation in chloride (Cl−) tolerance of 19 freshwater zooplankton species in four countries to answer three questions: (1) How much variation in Cl−tolerance is present among populations? (2) What factors predict intraspecific variation in Cl−tolerance? (3) Must we account for intraspecific variation to accurately predict community Cl−tolerance? We conducted field mesocosm experiments at 16 sites and compiled acute LC50s from published laboratory studies. We found high variation in LC50s for Cl−tolerance in multiple species, which, in the experiment, was only explained by zooplankton community composition. Variation in species‐LC50was high enough that at 45% of lakes, community response was not predictable based on species tolerances measured at other sites. This suggests that water quality guidelines should be based on multiple populations and communities to account for large intraspecific variation in Cl−tolerance.
Lake salinization drives consistent losses of zooplankton abundance and diversity across coordinated mesocosm experiments
Human‐induced salinization increasingly threatens inland waters; yet we know little about the multifaceted response of lake communities to salt contamination. By conducting a coordinated mesocosm experiment of lake salinization across 16 sites in North America and Europe, we quantified the response of zooplankton abundance and (taxonomic and functional) community structure to a broad gradient of environmentally relevant chloride concentrations, ranging from 4 to ca. 1400 mg Cl−L−1. We found that crustaceans were distinctly more sensitive to elevated chloride than rotifers; yet, rotifers did not show compensatory abundance increases in response to crustacean declines. For crustaceans, our among‐site comparisons indicate: (1) highly consistent decreases in abundance and taxon richness with salinity; (2) widespread chloride sensitivity across major taxonomic groups (Cladocera, Cyclopoida, and Calanoida); and (3) weaker loss of functional than taxonomic diversity. Overall, our study demonstrates that aggregate properties of zooplankton communities can be adversely affected at chloride concentrations relevant to anthropogenic salinization in lakes.