Cascading Effects of Decreased Salinity on the Plankton Chemistry, and Physics of the Great Salt Lake (Utah)
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
National Research Council Canada
Physical, chemical and biological variables were measured in the Great Salt Lake during 1985–87, when salinity in the mixolimnion was near 50 g/L, much lower than the 250 g/L maxima recorded in 1963. Decreased salinity has been accompanied by a change in macrozooplankton from one species (Artemia franciscana), to an assemblage with one rotifer, two copepods, Artemia, and the corixid Trichocorixa verticalis. Predation by the corixid may now limit Artemia to low densities (<100∙m−3). The low biomass of Artemia and other zooplankton has reduced grazing pressure on the algal community so that high chlorophyll levels (5-44 mg∙m−3) and low Secchi depths (0.8–2.7 m) are now present throughout the year. The algae presently reduce soluble reactive phosphorus and inorganic nitrogen in the mixolimnion to below 5 and 50 μg∙L−1, respectively. Shading in the 7-m thick mixolimnion by algae, and by purple-sulfur bacteria in the chemocline, decreases light penetration so that the monimolimnion now maintains a nearly constant temperature (9–11 °C) throughout the year. The data support the hypothesis that the effects of corixid predation have cascaded through the Great Salt Lake, affecting herbivores, nutrients and thermal stratification.
Wurtsbaugh, W.A. and T.S. Berry. 1990. Cascading effects of decreased salinity on the plankton, chemistry and physics of the Great Salt Lake (Utah). Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 47:100-109.