Zooplankton in the newly formed Cardiff Bay
Merrix, Faye L.
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1. Zooplankton are key organisms in the transfer of energy between trophic levels in standing waters. They have been used as model organisms in studies of competition, dispersal, predator-prey interactions and in the development of general ecological theory. However, studies of zooplankton in natural lakes have been far more numerous than those in artificial water bodies. 2. Available literature suggests that several areas of zooplankton community ecology have been relatively neglected in artificial lakes. These include i) direct comparisons between zooplankton assemblages in artificial and natural lakes, despite their differences in age ii) hydrological and morphological factors that could potentially cause variations within and between lakes iii) the effects of lake management on seasonal zooplankton dynamics and zooplankton distribution iv) over-wintering populations v) zooplankton functional traits, and trait character in relation to possible environmental selection. Zooplankton case studies in lowland, artificial, urban lakes are surprisingly rare given that such lakes are now often developed for amenity, recreation, conservation and flood storage, in addition to their role in water supply. 3. In this thesis, a series of hypotheses were developed in order to address the above gaps in knowledge and tested in Cardiff Bay, a recently formed and highly managed urban freshwater lake in South Wales (UK). Specific questions addressed were: 1) Globally, do artificial water bodies support different zooplankton assemblages from those in natural lakes 2) Does the zooplankton community of Cardiff Bay vary in ways predicted by ecological theory, and particularly as predicted by the Plankton Ecology Group (PEG) qualitative model of plankton succession 3) In Cardiff Bay, is there a persisting community of interacting zooplankton species even over less productive periods of the year 4) Do spatial and temporal dynamics in the zooplankton community of Cardiff Bay reflect local water quality 5) Do management practices in Cardiff Bay influence the temporal and spatial dynamics of zooplankton 6) Do the traits of zooplankton species in Cardiff Bay vary spatio-temporally in ways that might reflect environmental variation?