The authors tested the hypothesis that zooplankton diversity and density are affected by the presence of cyanotoxins in the water. The authors focused on 4 oxbow lakes of the Vistula River in southern Poland, which are subjected to mass cyanobacterial development. In 2 of the oxbows (Piekary and Tyniec), microcystins released into the water were found. The highest concentration of microcystins (0.246mg/L) was observed for microcystins LR. Zooplankton diversity showed a weak response to the presence of microcystins released into the water. The Shannon index (H’) of total zooplankton diversity decreased in the Piekary and Tyniec oxbows during periods when the microcystin concentrations were highest. The same trend was noted for diversity of rotifers in both oxbows and for diversity of copepods in Piekary, but not for copepods in Tyniec. No such trends were found for the diversity of cladocerans in any of the oxbows, nor was a relationship found between density of zooplankton and microcystins. Statistical analyses showed that the number of species in individual samples was negatively correlated with the levels of sulfates, phosphates, and ammonia, but the microcystin concentration was positively related to those levels. This points to the complexity of the interactions and synergies among toxins, abiotic factors, and zooplankton biodiversity. In focusing on the problem of cyanotoxins, conservation studies should pay attention to this complexity.
Environ Toxicol Chem 2017;36:165–174. # 2016 SETAC