US Long-Term Ecological Research Network
Effects of an experimental lake acidification on zooplankton feeding rates and selectivity
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Although the changes in plankton community composition that result from lake acidification have been documented, little is known about processes that accompany these changes. Here we report investigations on an important process, zooplankton herbivory, in an experimentally acidified lake. Acidification from pH 6.2 to 5.2 has not directly impaired the ability of several major taxa to gather food. Acidification may indirectly affect selective feeding behavior, through changes in the relative abundance of phytoplankton species. Dramatic shifts in population-level grazing were not reflected in overall community herbivory, because of complementary changes in populations in the reference and treatment lake basins. Hence, integrative system-level functions may be poorer indicators of perturbation than specific, fine-scale processes.