Density- and Size-Dependent Winter Mortality and Growth of Late Chaoborus flavicans LarvaeReport as inadecuate

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Winter processes such as overwinter survival and growth of individuals can have wide-ranging consequences for population dynamics and communities within and across seasons. In freshwater organisms winter processes have been mainly studied in fish despite that invertebrates also have substantial impacts on lake and pond food webs. One of the major invertebrate consumers in lake and ponds is the planktonic larvae of the dipteran insect Chaoborus spec. However, while much is known about Chaoborus feeding ecology, behaviour and structuring role in food webs, its winter ecology and how it affects its populations are poorly understood. Here size- and density-dependent winter mortality and body growth of late Chaoborus flavicans larvae were quantified over naturally occurring size and density ranges in autumn and under natural winter conditions using two field enclosure experiments. Winter mortality increased with autumn density but decreased with autumn body size while winter growth rates decreased with autumn density and body sizes. There was also a density- and size-independent background mortality component. The proportion of pupae found in spring decreased strongly and exponentially with autumn density. These results may explain the commonly observed univoltine life cycle and multi-annual density fluctuations in northern Chaoborus populations. They further demonstrate the relevance of winter processes and conditions for freshwater invertebrates and ecosystems.

Author: Arne Schröder



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