• Celis-Salgado, Martha P
  • Ezatollahpour, Shayan
  • Arnott, Shelley E.
  • Donini, Andrew
  • York University


Calcium levels are declining in eastern North American and western European lakes. This widespread issue is affecting the composition of crustaceanzooplankton communities, as the presence and abundance of several calcium-rich daphniid species are declining, while two other daphniids, D. catawba and D. ambigua, that apparently tolerate low calcium environments, are prospering. The physiological basis for low calcium tolerance of these daphniids is unknown. In this study the presence of one Ca-rich (D. pulicaria) and one Ca-poor (D. ambigua) daphniid species in Canadian Shield lakes is assessed in relation to lake water Ca levels. The occurrence of D. ambigua was independent of Ca levels in Ontario lakes, whereas D. pulicaria was more likely to occur in lakes with relatively more Ca. In the laboratory, D. ambigua maintained lower levels of hemolymph Ca2+ across a range of low Ca levels (0.7 to 7 mg l−1) compared with D. pulicaria. The hemolymph pH remained steady across this Ca gradient in D. ambigua while it was significantly more acidic in D. pulicaria in the two lowest Ca treatments. While Ca2+ uptake was observed adjacent to the surface of D. ambigua individuals, Ca2+ loss was observed for D. pulicaria assayed under moderately high Ca levels. Based on these observations we propose that D. ambigua is able to survive in low Ca lakes by maintaining low free ionic Ca2+ levels in the hemolymph which minimizes the Ca gradient across the body wall in low Ca water thus limiting overall Ca loss and facilitating Ca2+ uptake