Salt lake research weekly: Picoplankton

My weekly updates were terminated for one week and it was enough to become overloaded with interesting papers dealing with salt lakes. I think that to post several posts each focused on one paper is better strategy than to cover several different research in one post.

Lothar Krienitz from Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries with colleagues from Germany, Kenya and China studied the occurrence of Picocystis salinarum in saline inland waters of East Africa.

Picocystis salinarum are small single cell algae which is difficult to recognize and distinguish in field samples. However the alga is very abundant in many salt soda lakes. As demonstrated in this research Picocystis occasionally replaces the dominant cyanobacterium (Arthrospira fusiformis), which is the main food resource of Lesser Flamingos, in soda lakes of Bogoria and Nakuru. During the period of mass development the biomass of Picocystis might reach as high as 53–68% of the total phytoplankton biomass. Picocystis is a typical picoplankton species which is different to indentify, count and account for in food web dynamics. However with high growth rate and ability to develop in a wide range of salinities species of picoplankton can complicate life of scientists and lake ecosystem managers. As a scientist involved in lake ecosystem modeling I realize that in spite of our great technological progress and fascinating advances in such areas such as molecular biology or remote sensing we are still very basic in understanding of “simple” food webs in natural ecosystems. Our understanding might be especially basic when we consider a salt lake which ecosystem continuously changes under the effect of naturally fluctuating salinity.

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