A trip out sampling on Lake Mendota this morning yielded a robust catch of the zooplankton (tiny animal), Daphnia, a miniscule, yet voracious crustacean that goes to town on phytoplankton (tiny plant) populations that are blooming throughout the upper reaches of the water column.
Spring plankton community, Lake Mendota from Center for Limnology on Vimeo.
Eventually we’ll see so many Daphnia eating so many tiny green phytoplankton, that the waters will become crystal clear. This fleeting “clear water” phase will only last until the surface waters warm and send Daphnia down below hunting for cooler waters. Then the opposite of “clear water” will occur as blue green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms that we know all too well on Mendota take over. Unfortunately, these are just as unpalatable to any grazers in the lake as they are to those of us watching the green scums from the shore…
The sampling was part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network’s “Spring Blitz,” an unprecedented limnological effort to simultaneously monitor spring transitions on lakes around the globe. More to come on that next week. Stay tuned!