Zooplankton are one of the main grazers on algae and form an important part of the food chain.
As a major component of the food web, zooplankton are a vital part of ecosystem health and serve as important indicators to changes in water quality. Zooplankton community structure (the number and abundance of each species) is continually monitored in our lakes to observe how external factors influence the complex internal dynamics that help drive lake productivity and provide a vital source of food for fish.
Some of the main zooplankton found in IISD-ELA lakes are Mysis, Chaoborus and Daphnia. Daphnia have long been a species of interest, as they are one of the main grazers (they feed on algae) within the lakes. During the open water season, the number of Daphnia is closely related to the concentration of algae within the lake. As algae within the lakes start to bloom and populations increase, there is often a related increase in Daphnia as they begin to feed on the algae. This complex relationship between Daphnia and their food source is commonly seen each year in IISD-ELA lakes.
During each field season, zooplankton samples are collected and analyzed for:
- Species counts
- Community structure
For speciality species such as Mysis or Chaoborus the following measurements may be available:
- Body length measurements
- Life-cycle description (instar stage, adult, etc.)
See our data request page for more information.