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Zooplankton as indicators

This project started at GLEON in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada and is in early, green, stages of development. This project will expand on existing uses of zooplankton as sentinels of ecosystem change and explore developing new indicators using existing long-term datasets of zooplankton.  Zooplankton community composition and abundances are known to be driven by both top-down and bottom-up forces. The intermediate position of zooplankton in the food web enables using zooplankton as lake trophic state indicators, as targets of field or experimental biomanipulation studies, and could lead to the development of additional indicators of ecosystem change using zooplankton community data. Developing additional ecosystem indicators using zooplankton could be helpful for managers and researchers that can easily collect zooplankton but are limited in fishery or water quality sampling. The two early questions for this project include:

  •      Can zooplankton lengths, community composition, and abundances be used as early indicators of shifts in food web dynamics, such as changes in nutrient loading, habitat availability, or changes in planktivory from vertebrate or invertebrate predators?
  •      Do the current established uses of zooplankton as indicators show consistent results across a numerous long-term zooplankton monitoring programs? Which existing indicators provide the most consistent results? Are some indicators more likely to suggest specific ecosystem changes when long term data indicates that no change has actually occurred?

In this initial call for participants we are interested in recruiting members of the GLEON community and broadly identifying potential existing datasets for this work that will help shape the project. Ideally, we are looking for datasets with zooplankton (community composition, abundance, and lengths), phytoplankton (community composition, biomass or chlorophyll), water quality measures (e.g. nutrients), temperature profiles, lake morphology and properties, and fish surveys, if possible. We are particularly interested in long term datasets from lakes that have experienced a large change in the food web or trophic state but are also interested in long term datasets from stable systems.

2020-07-27 to 2022-07-27
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Project Phase

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