Hypolimnetic Hypoxia Increases the Biomass Variability and Compositional Variability of Crustacean Zooplankton Communities
In freshwater lakes and reservoirs, climate change and eutrophication are increasing the occurrence of low-dissolved oxygen concentrations (hypoxia), which has the potential to alter the variability of zooplankton seasonal dynamics. We sampled zooplankton and physical, chemical and biological variables (e.g., temperature, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll a) in four reservoirs during the summer stratified period for three consecutive years. The hypolimnion (bottom waters) of two reservoirs remained oxic throughout the entire stratified period, whereas the hypolimnion of the other two reservoirs became hypoxic during the stratified period. Biomass variability (measured as the coefficient of the variation of zooplankton biomass) and compositional variability (measured as the community composition of zooplankton) of crustacean zooplankton communities were similar throughout the summer in the oxic reservoirs; however, biomass variability and compositional variability significantly increased after the onset of hypoxia in the two seasonally-hypoxic reservoirs. The increase in biomass variability in the seasonally-hypoxic reservoirs was driven largely by an increase in the variability of copepod biomass, while the increase in compositional variability was driven by increased variability in the dominance (proportion of total crustacean zooplankton biomass) of copepod taxa. Our results suggest that hypoxia may increase the seasonal variability of crustacean zooplankton communities.