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Pesticide exposure enhances dominance patterns in a zooplankton community

Journal Contribution - e-publication

Exposure to pesticides can profoundly alter community dynamics. It is expected that dominance patterns will be enhanced or reduced depending on whether the dominant species is less or more sensitive to the pesticide than the subdominant species. Community dynamics are, however, also determined by processes linked to population growth as well as competition at carrying capacity. Here, we used a mesocosm experiment to quantify the effect of chlorpyrifos exposure on the population dynamics of four cladoceran species (Daphnia magna, Daphnia pulicaria, Daphnia galeata and Scapholeberis mucronata) in mixed cultures, testing for direct effects of chlorpyrifos and indirect effects mediated by interactions with other species on the timing of population growth and dominance at carrying capacity. We also quantified whether the pesticide-induced changes in community dynamics affected top-down control of phytoplankton. By adding a treatment in which we used different genotype combinations of each species, we also tested to what extent genetic composition affects community responses to pesticide exposure. Immobilization tests showed that D. magna is the least sensitive to chlorpyrifos of the tested species. Chlorpyrifos exposure first leads to a reduction in the abundance of D. galeata to the benefit of D. pulicaria, and subsequently to a reduction in densities of D. pulicaria to the benefit of D. magna. This resulted in D. magna being more dominant in the pesticide than in the control treatment by the end of the experiment. There was no effect of genotypic differences on community patterns, and top-down control of phytoplankton was high in all treatments. Our results suggest that in this community dominance patterns are enhanced in line with the observed among-species differences in sensitivity to the pesticide. Our results also show that the development of the community in pesticide treatment is a complex interaction between direct and indirect effects of the pesticide.
Journal: Ecological Applications
ISSN: 1051-0761
Issue: 7
Volume: 33
Publication year:2023