Grazing affects periphytic algal biomass in the periphyton-macrophyte relationship independently of the substrate type and nutrient status
The macrophyte–algae relationship has primary importance in affecting the functioning of shallow lake ecosystems. However, how substratum type, grazing, and nutrient status affect the relationship, is still largely unknown. Here, we studied algal assemblages covering either the submerged macrophyte, Ceratophyllum demersum, or artificial plastic plants with similar morphological complexity to answer these questions. Nutrient status was assessed as eu- and hypertrophic conditions in two separate lakes. In contrast to previous studies, the algal community on artificial substrates resembled to those observed on C. demersum. Independently of nutrient status (lakes), algae colonised artificial substrates intensively, but the highest algal biomass was observed in the hypertrophic lake. The community of periphytic algae was represented by diatoms, chlorophytes, and cyanobacteria. In the eutrophic lake, rather diatoms were present with high relative abundance, whereas, in the hypertrophic lake, rather cyanobacteria prevailed. Grazing pressure was high in both lakes and in the case of both substrate types, affecting the biomass of periphytic algae significantly. Our results indicate that macroinvertebrate grazing plays a crucial role in affecting periphytic algal biomass, independently of nutrient status and substratum type in shallow lakes.
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