1. Return of large-bodied zooplankton populations is of key importance for creating a shift from a turbid to a clear-water state in shallow lakes after a nutrient loading reduction. In temperate lakes, recovery is promoted by submerged macrophytes which function as a daytime refuge for large zooplankton. However, recovery of macrophytes is often delayed and use of artificial plant beds (APB) has been suggested as a tool to enhance zooplankton refuges, thereby reinforcing the shift to a clear-water state and, eventually, colonisation of natural plants.
2. To further evaluate the potential of APB in lake restoration, we followed the day–night habitat choices of zooplankton throughout summer in a clear and a turbid lake. Observations were made in the pelagic and littoral zones and in APB in the littoral representing three different plant densities (coverage 0%, 40% and 80%).
3. In the clear lake, the zooplankton (primarily Daphnia) were mainly found in the pelagic area in spring, but from mid-May they were particularly abundant in the APB and almost exclusively so in mid-June and July, where they appeared in extremely high densities during day (up to 2600 ind. L−1). During night Daphnia densities were overall more equally distributed between the five habitats. Ceriodaphnia was proportionally more abundant in the APB during most of the season. Cyclopoids were more abundant in the high APB during day but were equally distributed between the five habitats during night.
4. In the turbid lake, however, no clear aggregation was observed in the APB for either of the pelagic genera (Daphnia and Bosmina). This may reflect a higher refuge effect in the open water due to the higher turbidity, reduced ability to orient to plant beds and a significantly higher fish density (mainly of roach, Rutilus rutilus, and perch, Perca fluviatilis) in the plant beds than in the clear lake. Chydorus was found in much higher proportions among the plants, while cyclopoids, particularly the pelagic Cyclops vicinus, dominated in the pelagic during day and in the pelagic and high density plants during night.
5. Our results suggest that water clarity is decisive for the habitat choice of large-bodied zooplankton and that introduction of APB as a restoration measure to enhance zooplankton survival is only a useful tool when water clarity increases following loading reduction. Our results indicate that dense APB will be the most efficient.
- lake restoration
- artificial plant beds
- habitat choice