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Is diatom size selection by harpacticoid copepods related to grazer body size?
De Troch, M.; Chepurnov, V.; Gheerardyn, H.; Vanreusel, A.; Ólafsson, E. (2006). Is diatom size selection by harpacticoid copepods related to grazer body size? J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 332(1): 1-11.
In: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Elsevier: New York. ISSN 0022-0981; e-ISSN 1879-1697, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 114295 [ OMA ]

Author keywords
    copepoda; diatoms; grazing; selection

Authors  Top 
  • De Troch, M., more
  • Chepurnov, V., more
  • Gheerardyn, H., more
  • Vanreusel, A., more
  • Ólafsson, E.

    Copepods are known as important consumers of primary production and are eaten by larger animals. They therefore form a main link to higher trophic levels. While feeding pathways and specificity of planktonic copepods have been well studied, the selectivity of the benthic harpacticoid copepods is far less documented. A better knowledge of the functional ecology of harpacticoids as important grazers on primary producers may have consequences for the re-evaluation of basic energy flow in benthic ecosystems. We tested whether size selectivity for diatoms exists in harpacticoid copepods. We hypothesized that size selectivity of harpacticoid copepod species is strongly related to body size. Because of morphological constraints, we expected smaller copepods to prefer smaller diatoms while larger copepods should be able to consume both small and large diatoms. We tested this hypothesis in four harpacticoid copepod species of varied body size: Tigriopus brevicornis, Harpacticus obscurus, Amphiascus minutes and Paramphiascella fulvofasciata. As food source we used two 13C labelled strains of the benthic diatom Seminavis robusta with a four-fold difference in cell biovolume. Three out of four harpacticoid species showed size selectivity: H. obscurus and A. minutes preferred the larger Seminavis cells, while P. fulvofasciata selected the smaller Seminavis cells. Based on monoclonal treatments, there was no clear preference found for T. brevicornis although there was a small preference for large cells in the mixed treatments. Except for P. fulvofasciata, all species showed a lower uptake when offered the mixed diet (both small and large cells). Although most species showed a size selectivity, our results suggest that this selectivity was not related to their body size. However, the only species that ate significantly more of small diatoms was characterised by comparatively small mouthparts in relation to its body size.

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