Opening the black box of winter: Full-year dynamics of crustacean zooplankton along a nearshore depth gradient in a large lake

Kirill Shchapov, Ted Ozersky

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4 Scopus citations


Past studies of zooplankton seasonality in large temperate lakes have often neglected the winter period. Winter conditions are rapidly changing (e.g., reduced ice cover extent and duration, altered thermal and mixing regimes) in northern lakes, making it important to fill the existing winter knowledge gap. In this study, we sampled five stations in Lake Superior across a nearshore depth gradient through the full year to assess the phenology of crustacean zooplankton communities and the effect of environmental drivers on them. Across stations, zooplankton densities were the lowest in winter (0.9 ± 0.6 Ind. L−1) and highest in summer (14.2 ± 15.1 Ind. L−1). Zooplankton abundances and community composition were less seasonally variable at deeper stations compared to shallower and more terrestrially affected regions. Cladocerans were the dominant taxonomic group during the summer across all stations, while cyclopoid and calanoid copepods were more important during the fall, winter, and spring. Among feeding groups, herbivores were most abundant in summer while omnivores and carnivores dominated in winter. We found that water temperature and food availability were the main drivers of total zooplankton densities through the year and during the cold seasons, but the effect of these factors varied among the main taxonomic groups. Our study demonstrates seasonal and spatial variation in crustacean zooplankton and environmental parameters, with the highest fluctuation at shallower stations. This study offers new information on seasonal crustacean zooplankton dynamics and contributes to understanding the effects of climate change on large lake ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1438-1451
Number of pages14
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Our thanks to lab technicians, students, and volunteers at the Large Lakes Observatory, including Sandra Brovold, Julia Agnich, Audrey Huff, Andrew Camilleri, Taylor Velander, Julia Smith, John Koets, and Natasha Shchapova for their help in the lab and at the sampling locations. This work was funded by federal funds under award NA14OAR4170080 from Minnesota Sea Grant, National Sea Grant College Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA, the Sea Grant College Program, or the U.S. Department of Commerce. This study is one of the chapters of K.S's doctoral dissertation in Water Resources Science at University of Minnesota Duluth.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Limnology and Oceanography published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.


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