Zooplankton as an essential component in the pelagic food web are directly linked to pelagic ecosystem functioning. Therefore, comprehension of zooplankton functional diversity (FD) and its responses to environmental changes is crucial for ecosystem-based view. To identify FD responses to environmental drivers, we analysed 25 years of summer data on the brackish mesozooplankton community (including rotifers, cladocerans, copepods, and meroplankton) from the eutrophied, shallow Gulf of Riga (Baltic Sea). We established that within the Gulf of Riga, open waters are notably different from coastal regions based on the dynamics of hydrological conditions (temperature, salinity), cyanobacterial dominance, abundance of mesozooplankton functional groups, and mesozooplankton FD indices. Competition over resources in combination with hydrodynamic features and predation by adult herring were seemingly the central structuring mechanism behind the dynamics of FD metrics (richness, evenness, divergence, and dispersion) within coastal mesozooplankton communities. Whereas predation by young herring was an important driver only for the mesozooplankton communities in the open waters. Cyanobacterial dominance, used as a proxy for food quality and availability, had no effect on summer mesozooplankton FD metrics.
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