Are the abiotic and biotic characteristics of aquatic mesocosms representative of in situ conditions?

  • Andrew R. Dzialowski | andy.dzialowski@okstate.edu Oklahoma State University, United States.
  • Marek Rzepecki Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland.
  • Iwona Kostrzewska-Szlakowska Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland.
  • Krystyna Kalinowska Hydrobiological Station of Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland.
  • Anna Palash National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Belarus.
  • Jay T. Lennon Indiana University, United States.

Abstract

There is debate about whether results from mesocosm studies should be extrapolated to natural ecosystems. Critics argue that the abiotic and biotic characteristics of mesocosms do not represent the in situ conditions of the habitats in which they are designed to mimic. We addressed this idea by deploying mesocosms in two lakes of varying trophic status (mesotrophic and eutrophic). Water chemistry was relatively similar between the mesocosms and the respective lakes. In contrast, biological variables including most phytoplankton, nanoflagellates, ciliates, and zooplankton were lower in the mesocosms than they were in the respective lakes. There was also a shift in zooplankton composition such that mesocosm assemblages diverged from pelagic to littoral communities. While our results show that freshwater planktonic organisms can vary considerably between mesocosms and in situ habitats, we also suggest that factors such as isolation from lake sediments, the lack of predators, and the temporal scale at which mesocosms are filled and sampled should be considered when designing and interpreting mesocosm studies. Nevertheless, mesocosms are an important tool for developing and testing general ecological hypotheses that cannot be achieved using other approaches alone.

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Author Biographies

Andrew R. Dzialowski, Oklahoma State University
Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University, Assistant Professor
Marek Rzepecki, Polish Academy of Sciences
Centre for Ecological Research
Iwona Kostrzewska-Szlakowska, Polish Academy of Sciences
Centre for Ecological Research
Krystyna Kalinowska, Hydrobiological Station of Polish Academy of Sciences
Centre for Ecological Research
Anna Palash, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus
The Scientific and Practical Center for Bioresources
Jay T. Lennon, Indiana University
Department of Biology
Published
2014-05-15
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Supporting Agencies
the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (N N304 145837).
Keywords:
Mesocosms, limnocorrals, periphyton, wall effect.
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How to Cite
1.
Dzialowski AR, Rzepecki M, Kostrzewska-Szlakowska I, Kalinowska K, Palash A, Lennon JT. Are the abiotic and biotic characteristics of aquatic mesocosms representative of in situ conditions?. J Limnol [Internet]. 2014May15 [cited 2021May7];73(3). Available from: https://jlimnol.it/index.php/jlimnol/article/view/jlimnol.2014.721