Mismatches between predator and prey due to climate change have now been documented for a number of systems. Ultimately, a mismatch may have far-reaching consequences for ecosystem functioning as decoupling of trophic relationships results in trophic cascades. Here, we examine the potential for climate change induced mismatches between zooplankton and algae during spring succession, with a focus on Daphnia and its algal food. Whereas the development of an overwintering population of daphnids may parallel shifts in phytoplankton phenology due to climate warming, changes in the photoperiod–temperature interaction may cause the emerging population of daphnids to hatch too late and mismatch their phytoplankton prey. A decoupling of the trophic relationship between the keystone herbivore Daphnia and its algal prey can result in the absence of a spring clear water phase. We extended an existing minimal model of seasonal dynamics of Daphnia and algae and varied the way the Daphnia population is started in spring, i.e., from free swimming individuals or from hatching resting eggs. Our model results show that temperature affects the timing of peak abundance in Daphnia and algae, and subsequently the timing of the clear water phase. When a population is started from a small inoculum of hatching resting eggs, extreme climate warming (+6°C) results in a decoupling of trophic relationships and the clear water phase fails to occur. In the other scenarios, the trophic relationships between Daphnia and its algal food source remain intact. Analysis of 36 temperate lakes showed that shallow lakes have a higher potential for climate induced match–mismatches, as the probability of active overwintering daphnids decreases with lake depth. Future research should point out whether lake depth is a direct causal factor in determining the presence of active overwintering daphnids or merely indicative for underlying causal factors such as fish predation and macrophyte cover.
De Senerpont Domis, L. N., Mooij, W. M., Hülsmann, S., van Nes, E. H., & Scheffer, M. (2007). Can overwintering versus diapausing strategy in Daphnia determine match-mismatch events in zooplankton-algae interactions. Oecologia, 150(4), 682-698. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-006-0549-2