Can small-bodied Daphnia control Raphidiopsis raciborskii in eutrophic tropical lakes? A mesocosm experiment.
Raphidiopsis raciborskii is being considered an expanding, invasive species all over the world. It is a potentially toxin producer cyanobacterium and form blooms specially in (sub)tropical lakes, causing concern to public health. Thus, controlling such phenomena are of vital importance. To test the hypothesis that a tropical clone of Daphnia laevis is able to reduce the biomass of R. raciborskii, we performed a mesocosm experiment simulating a bloom of this cyanobacterium in field conditions and exposing it to ecologically relevant densities of daphniids. In addition, we tested the hypothesis that omnivorous fish would be able to exert a top-down effect on Daphnia, decreasing the effectiveness of this control. We used treatments with (10 and 20 Daphnia L-1) or without Daphnia and fish (3 per mesocosm). Daphnia was able to significantly reduce the biomass of R. raciborskii only at the highest density tested. Fish had low effect on Daphnia biomass, but it is suggested that nutrient recycling by fish might have contributed to the higher R. raciborskii biomass in fish treatments. This is the first evidence of Daphnia control over saxitoxin-producing cyanobacteria in a tropical ecosystem.