, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 77-82

Switching between herbivory and carnivory by the planktonic marine copepod Calanus pacificus

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Adult females of the omnivorous copepod Calanus pacificus, collected from the plankton off La Jolla, California, USA (June, 1978), fed disproportionately on the prey in greatest relative abundance when given mixtures of diatoms (Thalassiosira fluviatilis) and copepod (C. pacificus) nauplii as food. This switch from herbivorous to carnivorous behavior may be significant in nature during the decline of phytoplankton blooms. More generally, the widespread omnivorous habit among pelagic animals suggests a responsive and flexible trophic organization which contributes to the resiliency of planktonic communities in a dynamic physical environment.

Contribution No. 1223 from the Department of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA