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Ecología austral

versión On-line ISSN 1667-782X


DIOVISALVI, Nadia et al. Chascomús: structure and functioning of a turbid pampean shallow lake. Ecol. austral [online]. 2010, vol.20, n.2, pp.115-127. ISSN 1667-782X.

Laguna Chascomús is an eutrophic, turbid, shallow lake typical of the Pampa region of Argentina. This shallow lake is permanently mixed and displays a high degree of spatial homogeneity. The cyclical periods of excess and shortage of rain, characteristic of this area, result in periodic drying and flooding events. According to newspaper articles published during the first half of the XX century, the lake was originally turbid. The first patches of rooted vegetation appeared after the 1913 y 1914 floods. During most part of the XX century the lake remained in a "clear", vegetated state. During this period the dominant fish species was the silverside (pejerrey), Odontesthes bonariensis, which accounted for over 60% of the total fish catches (in biomass). Instead, by the end of the latest century the lake shifted to a turbid state that persisted until present. Currently, the phytoplankton primary production is limited by light and its values are among the highest ones reported for natural aquatic systems. In light limited systems, the transparency may be expected to be controlled by the amount of incident light, through a negative feedback loop with primary production. These predictions have been confirmed, both in mesocosm experiments and "in situ". The phytoplankton biomass, dominated by nanoplanktonic cyanobacteria accounts for 75% of the total amount of carbon in the water column. The equilibrium predicted by the light limitation theory could not hold if the model assumptions were violated. This situation could happen if the phytoplankton biomass were controlled by herbivore zooplankton. However, such a control of primary producer by herbivores seems to be precluded due to the absence of large-sized zooplankton grazers, presumably due to the composition of the fish assemblage. In contrast to earlier reports of the 1960, the proportion of pejerrey biomass is presently quite low (0.04%) and the community is dominated by omnivore microphagous, such as the sabalito (Cyphocharax voga). The dominance of sabalito could not only explain the composition of the zooplankton community, but it also could contribute to prevent or delay the consolidation of sediments.

Palabras clave : Alternative states; Turbidity; Light limitation; Planktivory; Carbon content.

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