Section 37
Chapter 36,817

Structure of planktonic microbial communities along a trophic gradient in lakes of Byers Peninsula, South Shetland Islands

Rochera, C.; Toro, M.; Rico, E.; Fernández-Valiente, E.; Villaescusa, J.A.; Picazo, A.; Quesada, A.; Camacho, A.

Antarctic Science 25(2): 277-287


ISSN/ISBN: 0954-1020
DOI: 10.1017/s0954102012000971
Accession: 036816714

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A systematic limnological survey of water bodies of Byers Peninsula (Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands) was carried out during the summer of 2001/02. Abundances of microbial plankton were determined which allowed a delineation of the pelagic food web structure. We also report the nutrient status of these lakes. We demonstrate the occurrence of a trophic gradient that extended from upland lakes (oligotrophic) to the coastal ones (eutrophic). The study shows that a lake's morphology regulates the relative importance of the pelagic and benthic habitats, whereas nutrient loads mainly determine its trophic status. Yet, some of the variability observed could be also a legacy of the landscape. Photosynthetic pigments analyses by high-performance liquid chromatography of the lake waters revealed a major occurrence of chlorophytes, chrysophytes and diatoms. The chlorophyll a concentrations in lakes in the central plateau were consistently lower (< 2.5 μg l-1) than coastal sites, which were one order of magnitude higher. Numbers of both bacterioplankton and autotrophic picoplankton also increased from inland to coastal sites. However, the relative role of autotrophic picoplankton in the total phytoplankton assemblage decreased with the increase in nutrients loads. Our results show that the trophic status clearly plays a significant role in structuring the pelagic communities of these lakes despite climatic constraints.

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