Implications of long-term dynamics of fish and zooplankton communities for among-lake comparisons

Julian D. Olden, Olaf P. Jensen, M. Jake Vander Zanden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Understanding the environmental determinants of lake community composition has been a central pursuit in freshwater ecology. Previous studies have defined community composition based on temporally limited surveys, with the implicit assumption that interannual variation is negligible compared with among-lake variability. Using a long-term data set for fish and zooplankton communities in five north temperate lakes (Wisconsin, USA), we found that interannual, within-lake similarity in species composition (a measure of temporal stability in community composition) generally exceeded community similarity among lakes. Despite these differences, however, the strength of community-environment relationships were found to range widely (2%-99% explained variation) depending on the choice of single-year sample used in the analysis, a result of high temporal coherence in limnological and biological characteristics. Perhaps of greatest concern, interannual similarity in species composition showed consistent relationships with habitat variables commonly used to explain community differences among lakes. Decreasing lake area and shoreline perimeter (indicative of lower habitat heterogeneity) and seepage lakes were associated with low interannual similarity in community composition, thus confounding the ability to differentiate among lake communities according to their habitat characteristics. In light of our results, we offer a number of explicit recommendations for the selection and analysis of community data in future cross-lake studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1812-1821
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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