, Volume 167-168, Issue 1, pp 21-30

Day/night differences in the grazing impact of marine copepods

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Day/night differences in the removal rate of phytoplankton can occur as a result of increased copepod grazing rates at certain times of the day and diel vertical migration of animals. We conducted shipboard grazing experiments and fine-scale vertical zooplankton sampling to resolve these behaviors. Day/night feeding differences were compared in the center of several warm-core Gulf Stream rings, under conditions of no lateral water mass exchange, in the mesohaline portion of Chesapeake Bay and when following drogues in the Chesapeake Bay plume. Day/night variations in copepod biomass in the surface mixed layer were greater in neritic waters as compared to the open ocean stations. Day/night differences in weight-specific copepod filtration rates varied less than biomass. At the neritic stations copepod grazing was often higher at night, whereas at the oceanic stations day/night grazing rates were similar or daytime grazing rates were highest. The night/day ratio of zooplankton grazing impact on the phytoplankton community (the product of zooplankton biomass and their weight-specific grazing rate) averaged 4.8 in the Chesapeake Bay plume and 1.6 in warm-core Gulf Stream rings. Our results suggest that at lower food levels, there often are less day/night differences in the removal rate of phytoplankton by the copepod community.