The implications of cyanobacteria blooms on the base of the Lake Winnipeg food web

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Bryan, Matthew George
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Over the past two decades, Lake Winnipeg has been experiencing increasingly rapid eutrophication, and large cyanobacterial blooms now form in the North Basin in most years in late summer or fall. Cyanobacteria are considered a relatively poor food source compared with other phytoplankton, but the impacts of these blooms upon the primary consumers in the lake have not previously been researched. A microscopic analysis of whole water samples found cyanobacteria to be scarcely present in summer 2012, with nitrogen-fixing and non-fixing cyanobacteria comprising 11.2% and 8.4% of the basin-wide biovolume, respectively, and all but absent in fall. Gut content analysis of chironomids found that cyanobacteria made up an almost negligible part of their diet. Stable isotope analysis revealed that nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria reduced phytoplankton δ15N values, and that this same reduction could be traced through the zooplankton, but not down to the sediments or chironomids.
stable isotopes, phytoplankton, aquatic ecology, harmful algal bloom