, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 265-277

Grazing rates of the Atlantic menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus as a function of particle size and concentration

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Abstract

The feeding behavior of adult Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) upon 5 species of phytoplankton and 2 species of zooplankton has been studied. Four recognizable feeding stages which were a function of the concentration and size of the food particles were observed. During rapid feeding the fish swam at a constant speed for a prolonged period over a wide range of particle concentrations. Particle and food carbon-concentrations at the threshold for initiation and termination of feeding were inversely related to particle size. Carteria chuii (13.2 μ) was not grazed at a significant rate, while two-cell chains of Skeletonema costatum (16. 5 μ) were filtered from the water, indicating a minimum-size threshold for filtration of between 13 and 16 μ. The most rapid filtering rates were observed for the copepod Acartia tonsa (\(\bar x\) volume swept clear = 24.8 l/fish/min). The maximum food-particle size acceptable to a menhaden appears to be between Acartia tonsa (1200 μ) and adult Artemia salina (10 mm). These results suggest that the large schools of menhaden found in Atlantic coastal waters could have a significant effect on the plankton, selectively grazing zooplankton, larger phytoplankton, and the longer chains of chain-forming diatoms.