Seasonal variation in plankton community responses of mesocosms dosed with pentachlorophenol

Kate J Willis, Paul Van den Brink, John Green

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Seasonal variations in plankton community response to pentachlorophenol (PCP) were studied in four mesocosm experiments using enclosures in a small lake. The mesocosms (860 1) were dosed with single applications of technical grade PCP (0, 4, 10, 24, 36, 54, 81 and 121 mug/l PCP) and monitored for 20 days. Multivariate statistical analyses showed that plankton community taxonomic composition varied with season. In winter and spring, communities were most stable in time; species diversity and abundance were lowest in winter. Seasonally, the communities varied little with respect to the dominant species, which were the copepod Calamoecia lucasi, the alga Peridinium sp. and the rotifer Ascomorpha ovalis. The direct effects of the PCP additions varied little between seasons, but indirect effects were evident at lower treatment levels in autumn. Indirect effects were not evident in winter. Minor variations in plankton community responses to PCP with season were apparent in the following order of decreasing sensitivity; autumn greater than or equal to winter/spring greater than or equal to summer. At the species level, C. lucasi showed the largest response. The responses observed were greatest in autumn, with decreased abundance at PCP concentrations greater than or equal to 24 mug/l. In the other seasons, effects were observed at levels of 54 or 81 mug/l and higher. Ascomorpha ovalis was the most responding rotifer in winter and spring, whereas Anuraeopsis fissa responded more strongly in autumn and summer. The dinoflagellate alga Peridinium sp. had the largest negative response in all but winter, when Dinobryon cylindricum did. Cryptomonas sp. responded positively to PCP in all seasons, increasing in abundance in the highest treatments, possibly due to reduced grazing pressure, reduced competition, or increased decomposition. The plankton community no-observed effect-concentration (NOEC) was 2436 mug/l PCP. Results reported here suggest that the Australian and New Zealand water quality guideline values for PCP are sufficient to protect plankton communities against adverse effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-720
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Environmental Sciences
  • Ecology
  • Toxicology


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