The exotic predatory cladoceran Bythotrephes longimanus was first observed in Lake Erie on 19 September, 1985. During the early summer immediately prior to its appearance, the cladoceran community in the central basin of Lake Erie was characterized by large populations of Bosmina longirostris, Eubosmina coregoni, Daphnia mendotae, and Daphnia retrocurva, with the latter three species persisting throughout August and September, along with Diaphanosoma spp. Community composition during early summer 1986 was similar to that of the previous year, but densities of all cladocerans decreased dramatically coincident with the appearance of Bythotrephes in mid-July, and remained suppressed throughout August and September. Only D. mendotae was present in appreciable numbers during this period; from mid-July through the end of August, 86–98% of cladoceran biomass (exclusive of Bythotrephes and Leptodora) was contributed by D. mendotae. Densities of Leptodora and Bythotrephes showed a strikingly inverse relationship, both temporally and spatially, during 1986. Size frequency distributions of D. mendotae exhibited an immediate shift towards extremely large (> 2.5 mm) individuals coincident with Bythotrephes' appearance in 1986, suggesting an upper size limit to efficient prey utilization by Bythotrephes. These results suggest that Bythotrephes can have substantial impacts both on cladoceran community composition, and on the size distributions of individual species.
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