Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Can fairy shrimps (Crustacea: Anostraca) structure zooplankton communities in temporary ponds?

Beatriz Sánchez A and David G. Angeler A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A University of Castilla-La Mancha, Institute of Environmental Sciences (ICAM), Avda. Carlos III s/n, E-45071 Toledo, Spain.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 58(9) 827-834
Submitted: 7 February 2007  Accepted: 24 August 2007   Published: 21 September 2007


Predation and competition are recognised as strong community structuring forces, and these processes are often mediated by keystone species. However, the role of keystone species in the plankton of temporary wetlands has hardly been evaluated. In the present study, the potential structuring role of fairy shrimps (Anostraca, Branchiopoda) on temporary wetland zooplankton communities was assessed. Dry sediments were collected from randomly chosen temporary ponds in the Campo de Calatrava area (Central Spain), and these were rewetted in outdoor microcosms. Zooplankton community dynamics of three wetlands that lacked fairy shrimps (controls) were contrasted with three wetlands that contained Branchinecta orientalis (G. O. Sars) (treatment). ANOVA analyses showed no significant differences in zooplankton community metrics and in taxonomic groups between the controls and treatments. Analyses of similarity (ANOSIM) and similarity percentages (SIMPER) revealed significant differences and a high degree of community dissimilarity within and between treatment levels. The high degree of environmental variability between wetlands compromised the detection of the structuring role of fairy shrimps on zooplankton in the present study. Studies based on manipulative designs could be more appropriate to test for the keystone role of fairy shrimps in temporary wetland food webs. Replicated before-after control-impact (BACI) designs could be especially useful for understanding basic ecological processes and this knowledge could then be used for the development of sound management strategies of ecologically poorly understood temporary ponds.

Additional keywords: Branchinecta, community structure, conservation, keystone species.


Angel Velasco and Marta Gutierrez are acknowledged for support throughout the present study, Marc Schallenberg, Olga Viedma and anonymous referees for constructive comments on a previous manuscript draft, and Mr. Alvaro Ramírez for providing permission to access the Laguna Alberquilla. Financial support was provided by Junta de Comunidades de Castilla – La Mancha (PAI-05–020) and University of Castilla – La Mancha (I320070222).


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