Abstract

Lake Rio Cuarto is a meromictic maar lake located in the low plains of northern Costa Rica. Its plankton composition has been studied several times since the decade of 1970. Yet most studies made short term surveys, and at least one study lasted for one year. Here we present data on phytoplankton and zooplankton composition from a four year study of the lake, from 2013 to 2017. Phytoplankton was studied from subsurface samples, preserved in Lugol’s solution and zooplankton from 20 m vertical hawls of a 64 um mesh net, and preserved with formaline and later transferred to 95% etanol. Phytoplankton composition included 54 taxa, most of them from the were Chlorophyta, followed by Cyanobacteria and Bacillariophyta. The most abundant were Synechococcus spp., Aphanocapsa sp. Coenochloris fotii, Chlorella sp. and Discostella stelligera. Total phytoplankton decreased from 2013 to 2017, mainly due to a decrease in Cyanobacteria. Zooplankton comprised 14 taxa, 5 cladocerans, 4 copepods, 1 diptera and 4 rotifers. The most abundant were Keratella cochlearis, Brachionus falcatus, Eubosmina tubicen and Arctodiaptomus dorsalis. There was a substitution of dominant species through time, at first (2013-2014) K. cochlearis and E. tubicen alternated in dominance, and later (2015-2016), A. dorsalis, Diaphanosoma sp. and Ceridaphnia sp. became dominant, with a return of K. cochlearis by 2017. The relationship between both components of the plankton is a complex result of the responses of individual species of both microalgae and zooplankton. However, most zooplankton taxa should be regarded as omnivores, so those relationships are not direct causal effects. The changes that occurred during the time of the study seem to be related to changes in the conditions of the lake, since its thermocline deepened with time and became more transparent. Those changes were not cyclical on an annual basis, but seemed to occur more on a long-term basis, as has been recognized earlier in the literature about tropical lakes.