Seasonal grazing of Pseudocalanus minutus on particles
Grazing by Pseudocalanus minutus on naturally occurring partieles has been investigated over a 2 year period at 5 m depth, in a small coastal embayment in Nova Scotia, Canada. Large variations in the standing stock of particulate matter in the water from 5 m depth were associated with seasonal changes in phytoplankton, and at times with runoff from rivers. Each size group displayed seasonal changes, with high amplitudes occurring in the large-particle size ranges. P. minutus consumption was associated with seasonal changes in total particle concentration as well as with the concentration in each size group. The food uptake was correlated (P>0.01) with the particle concentration in all particle categories, except in the size range below 3.57 μ. Frequency of positive electivity indices increased with particle sizes up to 57 μ and then decreased. Observations on particle spectra revealed considerable seasonal variability in both particle sizes and copepod feeding patterns. P. minutus adapted to seasonal variations within the particle spectrum by shifting its grazing pressure from one size range to another. By taking advantage of every particle peak concentration, P. minutus revealed a strong opportunistic feeding behaviour, and a very efficient utilization of the standing stock. Maximum consumption was recorded in early spring, when P. minutus fed on large-size particles. Feeding took place in the medium and small-size ranges during the summer and part of fall. Food uptake was rarely less than 2.26% of body weight during the winter, and reached up to 55% and sometimes more in spring. The unselective feeding patterus demonstrated by P. minutus suggest certain ecological implications of feeding pressure on standing stock.
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