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Estonian Journal of Ecology

Variation of macrozoobenthos communities in the reed Phragmites australis belt of two large shallow lakes; 141–153

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Authors
Margit Kumari, Külli Kangur, Marina Haldna

Abstract
This paper investigates macrozoobenthos communities of the reed belts in the two largest lakes of the Baltic region: Peipsi (3555 km2) and Võrtsjärv (270 km2). Although both are shallow and unstratified water bodies, their trophic states differ slightly in physico-chemical aspects and primary production. The reed Phragmites australis (Cav.) is a dominant species in the macrophyte communities, which has increased drastically in both lakes during the last 30 years. Although the bottom fauna of the two large Estonian lakes has been studied for several decades, investigations of the macrozoobenthos communities of the reed belt are scarce. The aims of this study were to describe the macrozoobenthos communities of the reed belt, to find out the main factors affecting the structure of the communities, and to compare these communities in the two lakes. The material for this study was collected from 13 profiles of L. Peipsi and from 9 profiles of L. Võrtsjärv at depths between 0.1 and 0.6 m in the reed belt from August to October 2002 and 2003. The benthic fauna of the reed belt was statistically different in the two large lakes of Estonia. Chironomids were dominating in the macrophyte zone of L. Võrtsjärv. In L. Peipsi, the gammaridean amphipod Gmelinoides fasciatus (Stebbing), introduced from L. Baikal into the lake at the beginning of the 1970s, was strongly dominating in the littoral zoobenthic communities. This amphipod has explosively increased in the lake, while the native gammarids have been virtually superseded by this invader during recent decades. Substrate type and vegetation significantly influence the macrozoobenthos communities. The results of the present study show that the abundance and taxon richness of macro­zoobenthos were the highest on gravel bottom.
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