Long-term response of Dreissena polymorpha larvae to physical and biological forcing in a shallow lake.
Müggelsee, a shallow eutrophic lake (Berlin, Germany), has been subject to global warming and concurrent reductions of anthropogenic nutrient loading during the past decades. Here, we focus on the recent increase in abundance of Dreissena polymorpha larvae. We aimed at ascertaining whether the change in abundance of larvae was driven by changes in climate, especially by climate warming, and/or by the concurrent changes in trophic state of the lake. Both the numbers of small, newly developed larvae and their lengths have increased in recent years, suggesting that conditions for overall reproductive success have improved. The timing of the increase in abundance of larvae was matched by changes in nutrient loading and phytoplankton biomass, induced by a reduced inflow of nutrients into the lake. Besides a correlation between the first appearance of larvae each year and the timing of the requisite temperature for first spawning (12 degrees C), no relationship between changes in water temperature and abundance, length and survival rates of larvae was found. However, a sudden drop in abundance of larvae in 2003 may be primarily attributed to low dissolved oxygen conditions during an unusually long period of stratification, induced by anomalous meteorological conditions. The increase in length and survival rates of larvae was most likely due to changes in food composition, which followed the decrease in nutrient availability, and to changes in the occurrence of planktivorous fish. The results suggest that the first appearance of larvae per year and the decline in abundance of larvae in 2003 were driven by climatic influences, while the overall increase in abundance and length of D. polymorpha larvae in Müggelsee was more likely caused by changes in the trophic state of the lake rather than by climate warming.