New scientific publication in PLoS ONE shows that bloom-forming cyanobacteria in the Baltic Sea support the development and reproduction of zooplankton, (i.e. copepods, which are an essential link to fish).
It is commonly accepted that summer cyanobacterial blooms cannot be efficiently utilized by grazers due to low nutritional quality and production of toxins; however the evidence for such effects in situ is often contradictory. Using field and experimental observations on Baltic copepods and bloom-forming diazotrophic filamentous cyanobacteria, we show that cyanobacteria may in fact support zooplankton production during summer. To highlight this side of zooplanktoncyanobacteria interactions, we conducted: (1) a field survey investigating linkages between cyanobacteria, reproduction and growth indices in the copepod Acartia tonsa; (2) an experiment testing relationships between ingestion of the cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena (measured by molecular diet analysis) and organismal responses (oxidative balance, reproduction and development) in the copepod A. bifilosa; and (3) an analysis of long term (1999–2009) data testing relationships between cyanobacteria and growth indices in nauplii of the copepods, Acartia spp. and Eurytemora affinis, in a coastal area of the northern Baltic proper. In the field survey, N. spumigena had positive effects on copepod egg production and egg viability, effectively increasing their viable egg production. By contrast, Aphanizomenon sp. showed a negative relationship with egg viability yet no significant effect on the viable egg production. In the experiment, ingestion of N. spumigena mixed with green algae Brachiomonas submarina had significant positive effects on copepod oxidative balance, egg viability and development of early nauplial stages, whereas egg production was negatively affected. Finally, the long term data analysis identified cyanobacteria as a significant positive predictor for the nauplial growth in Acartia spp. and E. affinis. Taken together, these results suggest that bloom forming diazotrophic cyanobacteria contribute to feeding and reproduction of zooplankton during summer and create a favorable growth environment for the copepod nauplii.
Hogfors H, Motwani NH, Hajdu S, El-Shehawy R, Holmborn T, et al. (2014) Bloom-Forming Cyanobacteria Support Copepod Reproduction and Development in the Baltic Sea. PLoS ONE 9(11): e112692. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112692