Grazing Potential—A Functional Plankton Food Web Metric for Ecological Water Quality Assessment in Mediterranean Lakes
Grazing potential (GP, in % day−1) was estimated for the plankton communities of 13 Greek lakes covering the trophic spectrum, in order to examine its sensitiveness in discriminating different classes of ecological water quality. Lakes with high GP values exhibited high zooplankton biomass dominated by large cladocerans or/and calanoids while lakes with low GP values had increased phytoplankton biomass and/or domination of small-bodied zooplankton indicating intensive fish predation. GP
... edation. GP successfully distinguished among ecological water quality classes (estimated using the phytoplankton water quality index PhyCoI) indicating its potential use as a metric for ecological water quality assessment. As a next step, PhyCoI index was modified to include GP as a metric in order to enhance the phytoplankton-based ecological status classification of lakes incorporating zooplankton as a supporting factor. The PhyCoIGP successfully assessed the ecological water quality in accordance with PhyCoI classification whereas it was significantly correlated with the eutrophication proxy TSISD based on Secchi Depth. Thus, we propose to use the modified phytoplankton index PhyCoIGP for monitoring the ecological water quality of lakes.