AskDefine | Define lentic

Dictionary Definition

lentic adj : of or relating to or living in still waters (as lakes or ponds) [ant: lotic]

Extensive Definition

Lentic system ecology is the study of the biotic and abiotic interactions within still continental waters. Together with lotic system ecology, which involves flowing waters such as rivers and streams, these fields form the more general study area of freshwater or aquatic ecology.
Lentic systems are diverse, ranging from a small, temporary rainwater pool a few inches deep to Lake Baikal, which has a maximum depth of 1740 m. The general distinction between pools/ponds and lakes is vague, but Brown These three areas can have very different abiotic conditions and, hence, host species that are specifically adapted to live there.


Zooplankton are tiny animals suspended in the water column. Like phytoplankton, these species have developed mechanisms that keep them from sinking to deeper waters, including drag-inducing body forms and the active flicking of appendages such as antennae or spines. The invertebrates that inhabit the benthic zone are numerically dominated by small species and are species rich compared to the zooplankton of the open water. They include Crustaceans (e.g. crabs, crayfish, and shrimp), molluscs (e.g. clams and snails), and numerous types of insects. The profundal zone is home to a unique group of filter feeders that use small body movements to draw a current through burrows that they have created in the sediment. This mode of feeding requires the least amount of motion, allowing these species to conserve energy.

Lentic food webs

As noted in the previous sections, the lentic biota are linked in complex web of trophic relationships. These organisms can be considered to loosely be associated with specific trophic groups (eg. primary producers, herbivores, primary carnivores, secondary carnivores, etc.). Scientists have developed several theories in order to understand the mechanisms that control the abundance and diversity within these groups. Very generally, top-down processes dictate that the abundance of prey taxa is dependent upon the actions of consumers from higher trophic levels. Typically, these processes operate only between two trophic levels, with no effect on the others. In some cases, however, aquatic systems experience a trophic cascade; for example, this might occur if primary producers experience less grazing by herbivores because these herbivores are suppressed by carnivores. Bottom-up processes are functioning when the abundance or diversity of members of higher trophic levels is dependent upon the availability or quality of resources from lower levels. Finally, a combined regulating theory, bottom-up:top-down, combines the predicted influences of consumers and resource availability. It predicts that trophic levels close to the lowest trophic levels will be most influenced by bottom-up forces, while top-down effects should be strongest at top levels. Additional factors, including temperature regime, pH, nutrient availability, habitat complexity, speciation rates, competition, and predation, have been linked to the number of species present within systems. described these patterns as part of the Plankton Ecology Group (PEG) model, with 24 statements constructed from the analysis of numerous systems. The following includes a subset of these statements, as explained by Brönmark and Hansson This may be related to size, as Hillebrand and Azovsky found that smaller organisms (protozoa and plankton) did not follow the expected trend strongly, while larger species (vertebrates) did. They attributed this to better dispersal ability by smaller organisms, which may result in high distributions globally. With regard to native species, invaders may cause changes in size and age structure, distribution, density, population growth, and may even drive populations to extinction. Examples of prominent invaders of lentic systems include the zebra mussel and sea lamprey in the Great Lakes.

See also


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