Marine Biology

, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 327-334

First online:

Prey size selection, feeding rates and growth dynamics of heterotrophic dinoflagellates with special emphasis on Gyrodinium spirale

  • Per Juel HansenAffiliated withMatine Biological Laboratory, University of Copenhagen

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The relationship between size and growth rate in heterotrophic dinoflagellates (collected from the Kattegat, Denmark during 1989 and 1990) was studied. In addition, prey size selection, feeding rates and growth dynamics were studied for the naked heterotrophic dinoflagellate Gyrodinium spirale Bergh. Heterotrophic dinoflagellates have growth rates which are approximately three times lower than that of their potential competitors, the ciliates. G. spirale requires a relatively high prey concentration in order to grow. Ingestion rate at the maintenance level is about half of that of maximum ingestion rate. Consequently, yield is lower than typically found for planktonic protozoa. When exposed to low prey concentrations, the dinoflagellate is able to reduce its metabolism and thus prolong survival. The optimum prey particle size for G. spirale, which feeds by direct engulfment, corresponds to its own size. The ability to ingest relatively large prey may explain why these organisms are competitive in nature.