Zooplankton community structure in the presence of low levels of cyanotoxins: a case study in a high altitude tropical reservoir (Valle de Bravo, Mexico)
Valle de Bravo water reservoir in the State of Mexico is being intensively studied since it provides water to about 2,500,000 people living in Mexico City. Cyanobacterial blooms reduce the water quality in this reservoir and this poses health risks. We hypothesize that one of the reasons for these persistent blooms is the dominance of small sized zooplankton throughout the year. Zooplankton samples were collected monthly by filtering 50 L of water from the surface (10-20 cm) using a 50 µm mesh and the samples were fixed in 4% formalin in the field. We measured temperature, pH, conductivity, Secchi disk transparency, dissolved oxygen, nitrates and phosphates. The microcystin levels were also quantified. The Secchi depth ranged from 0.86 to 9 m, nitrate levels were low (0.28 to 2.06 mg L-1), while phosphates were in the range of 1 to 14 mg L-1. The temperature varied from 14 to 25 °C. The zooplankton community was represented by 25 species of rotifers Keratella cochlearis had the highest density (840 ind L-1, followed by Polyarthra vulgaris (750 ind L-1). As compared to previous studies where the genus Brachionus was practically absent, we found four brachionid species. Among cladocerans, Bosmina longirostris was the dominant taxa reaching up to 100 ind L-1. Small sized zooplankton (<200 µm) dominated throughout the year. The zooplankton biomass in the winter months (December to February) was contributed by Daphnia laevis, copepodites and adult copepods. Unlike a decade ago when a dominance by cyanobacteria was recorded, in this study we found that the phytoplankton was dominated by diatoms and chlorophytes with an occasional presence of the cyanobacteria Anabaena spp. and Microcystis spp. The concentration of microcystins ranged from 0.5 to 0.7 µg L-1 and was within the parameters set by the WHO. Carlson’s Trophic State Index and Sladecek’s Brachionus/Trichocera ratio indicated that the reservoir was mesotrophic during the study period.
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