The importance of aquatic plants in maintaining zooplankton diversity and abundance: An experimental approach
AbstractThe influence of different species and ecological forms of higher aquatic plants on the abundance, biomass and species diversity of zooplankton was investigated in experimental ecosystems (microcosms). It was shown that in the absence of fish and macroinvertebrate predators, the abundance and diversity of zooplankton in the plants beds increased. Not only phytophilous, littoral, and small planktonic crustaceans, but also some large obligate planktonic crustaceans, reached a high abundance among the plants. Plants belonging to different ecological groups stimulated an increase in the abundance of different groups of zooplankton. In the beds of submerged plants, the number of Cladocera increased to a greater extent than Copepoda or Rotifera. The abundance of Copepoda, both Cyclopoida and Calanoida, grew in the beds of helophytes. The relative number of predators in the community increased among the plants. The species structure and quantitative parameters of zooplankton had their own characteristics in monospecies and mixed phytocenoses of the same plant species. The index of species diversity of zooplankton acquired the highest values in the mixed phytocenosis. Higher aquatic plants increase spatial heterogeneity, which stimulates the development of facultative planktonic and benthic species. The formation of phytogenic detritus and the lifetime release of organic substances by plants into the water causes the development of bacteria and protozoa, which expands the quality and size range of food organisms for zooplankton. Therefore, zooplankton becomes more diverse in terms of the set of trophic groups.
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