Life history strategies of cladocerans: comparisons of tropical and temperate taxa

S.S.S. Sarma, S. Nandini, R.D. Gulati

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We review recent works on different life history variables of cladoceran taxa in tropical and temperate freshwater bodies, comparing the strategies that cladocerans have evolved to adapt to contrasting environmental conditions in the two geographical regions. These life-history parameters relate to age and size at maturity, survival, fecundity, life-expectancy at birth, lifespan, gross, and net reproductive rates, generation time, the rate of population increase, peak population density and day of peak abundance. We also discuss the role of photoperiod and temperature on some of these life history parameters. We found a general paucity of experimental work and field data in tropics on cladocerans. There is very limited information on the few Daphnia species found in the tropics. The misconception of low species diversity of cladocerans in the tropics arose due to several reasons including lack of extensive and intensive field collections. Higher water temperatures apparently promote permanent infestation of tropical waters with toxic cyanobacteria, which reduce the zooplankton diversity. In addition to higher temperatures in the tropics, the year-round high predation pressure of planktivorous fish probably causes the tropical species, particularly in pelagic habitats, to reach maturity earlier (<3 days) than in temperate regions. Species of Daphnia in temperate regions are particularly adapted to living at food concentrations that are much lower and seasonably more variable than those for tropical genera such as Diaphanosoma. This is further corroborated by the more than an order of magnitude higher threshold food concentration (TFC) for tropical Cladocera than for their temperate counterparts. Fecundity patterns differ between tropical and temperate cladoceran taxa: cultured under optimal temperature regimes, tropical taxa have fewer eggs than temperate species of a comparable body size. Predation pressure may act differently depending on the size of the cladoceran neonates and thus on their population size structure. Global warming and climate changes seem to affect the behaviour (migration), distribution, and abundance of cladocerans. Apparently, in direct response to these changes, the possibility of encountering the tropical cladocerans in the northern, temperate hemisphere (bioinvasions) is on the rise [KEYWORDS: demography ; competition ; predation ; food quality ; threshold concentration ; Daphnia ; Moina ; Diaphanosoma ; lifespan]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-333
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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