, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 21-30

The annual cycle of heterotrophic planktonic ciliates in the waters surrounding the Isles of Shoals, Gulf of Maine: an assessment of their trophic role

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Abstract

Ciliates in the waters surrounding the Isles of Shoals, Gulf of Maine were collected from May 1985 to August 1986 in sampling bottles, fixed in Bouin's solution, and quantitatively protargol stained. Cell abundance and biomass were separated into four size classes. Large species were prevalent in the spring while smaller species dominated in the summer. Ciliate abundance ranged from 0.35 to 6×106 m-3 annually while biomass ranged from 2.7 to 240 J m-3. Production, estimated using a multiple regression equation which incorporated ambient temperature and cell volume, ranged from 2.5 to 105 J m-3d-1. A model was constructed to determine the relative importance of ciliates in the planktonic food web. Blooms could provide a brief but significant transfer of energy to upper trophic levels. However, at best, ciliates may contribute 12% to the copepod ration and 3% of their available food.

Communicated by R. W. Doyle, Halifax