While many laboratory and field studies show that zooplankton are negatively affected when exposed to high intensities of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), most studies also indicate that zooplankton are well adapted to cope with large variations in their UVR exposure in the pelagic zone of lakes. The response mechanisms of zooplankton are diverse and efficient and may explain the success and richness of freshwater zooplankton in optically variable waters. While no single behavioural or physiological protection mechanism seems to be superior, and while several unexplained and contradictory patterns exist in zooplankton UVR ecology, recent increases in our understanding are consistent with UVR playing an important role for zooplankton. This review examines the variability in freshwater zooplankton responses to UVR, with a focus on crustacean zooplankton (Cladocera and Copepoda). We present an overview of UVR-induced damages, and the protection and recovery mechanisms freshwater zooplankton use when exposed to UVR. We review the current knowledge of UVR impact on freshwater zooplankton at species and community levels, and discuss briefly how global change over the last three decades has influenced the UVR milieu in lakes.
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