Food web structure in the recently flooded Sep Reservoir as inferred from phytoplankton population dynamics and living microbial biomass.Microb Ecol. 2002 Jan; 43(1):67-81.ME
Phytoplankton dynamics, bacterial standing stocks and living microbial biomass (derived from ATP measurements, 0.7-200 mm size class) were examined in 1996 in the newly flooded (1995) Sep Reservoir ('Massif Central,' France), for evidence of the importance of the microbial food web relative to the traditional food chain. Phosphate concentrations were low, N:P ratios were high, and phosphate losses converted into carbon accounted for <50% of phytoplankton biomass and production, indicating that P was limiting phytoplankton development during the study. The observed low availability of P contrasts with the high release of "directly" assimilable P often reported in newly flooded reservoirs, suggesting that factors determining nutrient dynamics in such ecosystems are complex. The phosphate availability, but also the water column stability, seemed to be among the major factors determining phytoplankton dynamics, as (i) large-size phytoplankton species were prominent during the period of increasing water column stability, whereas small-size species dominated phytoplankton assemblages during the period of decreasing stability, and (ii) a Dinobryon divergens bloom occurred during a period when inorganic P was undetectable, coinciding with the lowest values of bacterial standing stocks. Indication of grazing limitation of bacterial populations by the mixotrophic chrysophyte D. divergens (in late spring) and by other potential grazers (mainly rotifers in summer) seemed to be confirmed by the Model II or functional slopes of the bacterial vs phytoplankton regressions, which were always <0.63. Phytoplankton biomass was not correlated with phosphorus sources and its contribution was remarkably low relative to the living microbial biomass which, in contrast, was positively correlated with total phosphorus in summer. We conclude that planktonic microheterotrophs are strongly implicated in the phosphorus dynamics in the Sep Reservoir, and thus support the idea that an important amount of matter and energy flows through the "microbial loop" and food web, shortly after the flooding of a reservoir.