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Aquatic Toxicology
99, No. 2, 2010; Pages: 205 - 211

Short-term disturbance of a grazer has long-term effects on bacterial communities—Relevance of trophic interactions for recovery from pesticide effects

Kaarina Foit, Antonis Chatzinotas, Matthias Liess

UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of System Ecotoxicology, Permoserstraße 15, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany


Little is known about the transfer of pesticide effects from higher trophic levels to bacterial communities by grazing. We investigated the effects of pulse exposure to the pyrethroid Fenvalerate on a grazer–prey system that comprised populations of Daphnia magna and bacterial communities. We observed the abundance and population size structure of D. magna by image analysis. Aquatic bacteria were monitored with regard to abundance (by cell staining) and community structure (by a 16S ribosomal RNA fingerprinting method). Shortly after exposure (2 days), the abundance of D. magna decreased. In contrast, the abundance of bacteria increased; in particular fast-growing bacteria proliferated, which changed the bacterial community structure. Long after pulse exposure (26 days), the size structure of D. magna was still affected and dominated by a cohort of small individuals. This cohort of small D. magna grazed actively on bacteria, which resulted in low bacterial abundance and low percentage of fast-growing bacteria. We identified grazing pressure as an important mediator for translating long-term pesticide effects from a grazer population on its prey. Hence, bacterial communities are potentially affected throughout the period that their grazers show pesticide effects concerning abundance or population size structure. Owing to interspecific interactions, the recovery of one species can only be assessed by considering its community context.

Keywords: Indirect effect; Top-down control; Food chain; Size structure; Community structure; Daphnia magna



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