Temperature impact on the midsummer decline of Daphnia galeata: an analysis of long-term data from the biomanipulated Bautzen Reservoir (Germany)

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • J Benndorf - (Author)
  • J Kranich - (Author)
  • T Mehner - (Author)
  • A Wagner - , Chair of Limnology (Author)


1. The influence of water temperature on occurrence and duration of a midsummer decline (MSD) of Daphnia galeata was studied in the biomanipulated Bautzen Reservoir in Germany. The proportion of piscivores in the fish community of the reservoir has been enhanced experimentally since 1981, As a consequence, Daphnia galeata has dominated the zooplankton. Over 18 years of study (1981-1998), a long-lasting MSD (longer than 30 days) occurred in 7 years, whereas a short MSD (shorter than 30 days) was observed in 6 years. During the remaining 5 years, an MSD was not observed.2. Two hypotheses were examined to explain the observed patterns. First, we postulated that high water temperature during winter and early spring (January-April) leads to an MSD after an early and high spring peak of daphnids. On the other hand, low temperature during winter and early spring should not cause an MSD owing to a slower increase of the population, resulting in a later peak of daphnids. Second, we hypothesized that the mean water temperature during early summer (May and June) influences the occurrence of an MSD (by controlling young-of-the-year (YOY) fish predation on daphnids).3. The water temperature during winter and early spring explains 83%, and the early summer water temperature 55%, of interannual variation in the occurrence of an MSD.4. The interannual variation in duration of an MSD was neither explained by temperature during winter and early spring nor by early summer temperature alone, but in 14 of the 18 years (78%) by a combination of both.5. We conclude that water temperature during winter and early spring had a strong impact on Daphnia mortality by influencing height and timing of the spring peak which, in turn, influenced the extent of overexploitation of their food resources. By contrast, the water temperature during early summer probably influenced the mortality of daphnids caused by predation of YOY fish. The relative timing of both sources of mortality, which depends on the temperature regime during the first 6 months of the year, is the key process in controlling the occurrence and duration of an MSD. A long-lasting MSD, therefore, is likely in Bautzen Reservoir only if temperatures are high during winter and early spring, as well as during early summer.6. As a consequence of climate warming, recent climate records reveal warming during winter, spring and early summer in middle Europe, rather than an increase in mean annual temperatures. If our findings and conclusions are related to this regional and temporal pattern of climate warming, an increasing frequency of years with a long-lasting MSD and, consequently, a decreasing efficiency of biomanipulation can be predicted.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-211
Number of pages13
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2001

External IDs

Scopus 0035126662
ORCID /0000-0003-2159-9609/work/142254799


Sustainable Development Goals


  • Biomanipulation, Clear water phase, Climate warming, Water temperature, Zooplankton

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