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  1. Abstract Climate change is altering light regimes in lakes, which should impact disease outbreaks, since sunlight can harm aquatic pathogens. However, some bacterial endospores are resistant to damage from light, even surviving exposure to UV-C. We examined the sensitivity of Pasteuria ramosa endospores, an aquatic parasite infecting Daphnia zooplankton, to biologically relevant wavelengths of light. Laboratory exposure to increasing intensities of UV-B, UV-A, and visible light significantly decreased P. ramosa infectivity, though there was no effect of spore exposure on parasitic castration of infected hosts. P. ramosa is more sensitive than its Daphnia host to damage by longer wavelength UV-A and visible light; this may enable Daphnia to seek an optimal light environment in the water column, where both UV-B damage and parasitism are minimal. Studies of pathogen light sensitivity help us to uncover factors controlling epidemics in lakes, which is especially important given that water transparency is decreasing in many lakes. 
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  2. Abstract

    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‐up control of phytoplankton in aquatic systems.

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  3. Abstract

    Lake surface temperatures are warming in many regions and have the potential to alter seasonal thermal stratification. However, the effects of climate change on thermal stratification can be difficult to characterize because trends in thermal stratification can be regulated by changes in multiple climate variables and other characteristics, such as water clarity. Here, we use long‐term (1993–2017) data from near‐pristine Crater Lake (Oregon) to understand long‐term changes in the depth and strength of summer stratification, measured by the center of buoyancy and Schmidt Stability, respectively. The depth of stratification has shoaled significantly (2.4 m decade−1), while stratification strength exhibited no long‐term trend. Empirical observations and modeling scenarios demonstrate that atmospheric stilling at Crater Lake is associated with the 25‐year shoaling trend as spring wind speeds declined over the observation period. While summer lake surface water and air temperatures warmed during the study period, spring air temperatures were variable and correlated with summer Schmidt Stability. Our results indicate that warmer spring air temperature resulted in earlier onset of stratification and stronger summer stratification. The observed shoaling of stratification depth at Crater Lake may have important ecological consequences, especially for non‐motile primary producers who can become constrained within a thinner epilimnion and exposed to higher solar radiation and reduced upwelling of nutrients. Driven by climate changes, many large lakes may be experiencing similar trends in seasonal stratification.

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  4. Abstract

    Increases in the concentration of dissolved organic matter (DOM) have been documented in many inland waters in recent decades, a process known as “browning”. Previous studies have often used space‐for‐time substitution to examine the direct consequences of increased DOM on lake ecosystems. However, browning often occurs concomitant with other ecologically important water chemistry changes that may interact with or overwhelm any potential ecological response to browning itself. Here we examine a long‐term (~20 year) dataset of 28 lakes in the Adirondack Park, New York, USA, that have undergone strong browning in response to recovery from acidification. With these data, we explored how primary producer and zooplankton consumer populations changed during this time and what physical and chemical changes best predicted these long‐term ecosystem changes. Our results indicate that changes in primary producers are likely driven by reduced water clarity due to browning, independent of changes in nutrients, counter to previously hypothesized primary producer response to browning. In contrast, declines in calcium concomitant with browning play an important role in driving long‐term declines in zooplankton biomass. Our results indicate that responses to browning at different trophic levels are decoupled from one another. Concomitant chemical changes have important implications for our understanding of the response of aquatic ecosystems to browning.

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