3 years ago

Feeding on dispersed vs. aggregated particles: The effect of zooplankton feeding behavior on vertical flux

Marja Koski, Julia Boutorh, Christina de la Rocha

by Marja Koski, Julia Boutorh, Christina de la Rocha

Zooplankton feeding activity is hypothesized to attenuate the downward flux of elements in the ocean. We investigated whether the zooplankton community composition could influence the flux attenuation, due to the differences of feeding modes (feeding on dispersed vs. aggregated particles) and of metabolic rates. We fed 5 copepod species—three calanoid, one harpacticoid and one poecilamastoid–microplankton food, in either dispersed or aggregated form and measured rates of respiration, fecal pellet production and egg production. Calanoid copepods were able to feed only on dispersed food; when their food was introduced as aggregates, their pellet production and respiration rates decreased to rates observed for starved individuals. In contrast, harpacticoids and the poecilamastoid copepod Oncaea spp. were able to feed only when the food was in the form of aggregates. The sum of copepod respiration, pellet production and egg production rates was equivalent to a daily minimum carbon demand of ca. 10% body weight-1 for all non-feeding copepods; the carbon demand of calanoids feeding on dispersed food was 2–3 times greater, and the carbon demand of harpacticoids and Oncaea spp. feeding on aggregates was >7 times greater, than the resting rates. The zooplankton species composition combined with the type of available food strongly influences the calculated carbon demand of a copepod community, and thus also the attenuation of vertical carbon flux.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177958

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