Marine Biology

, Volume 146, Issue 4, pp 771–780

Palatability of autotrophic dinoflagellates to newly hatched larval crabs

Research Article


To determine the general palatability of autotrophic dinoflagellates to newly hatched crab larvae and whether there are taxonomic, predator/prey size relationships, or toxicity components to their ability to discriminate among dinoflagellates, larvae of six species of crabs from two families were fed 16 species/strains of dinoflagellates from three orders. Dinoflagellate cell length ranged from 18 to 50 µm, and toxic and non-toxic species/strains were included. Experiments measuring incidence of prey ingestion, grazing rates on individual constituents of selected prey combinations, and development on one toxic species shown to be readily ingested were conducted between 2000 and 2002. Thirteen of sixteen dinoflagellates were palatable to larvae, with no consistent pattern of prey discrimination based on taxonomic affinity, toxicity, larval hatching season, or predator/prey size relationships. Although the three dinoflagellates not ingested were toxic, three other toxic species/strains were ingested, with accelerated mortality occurring in the one case. Ingestion of non-favored prey occurred only at very low rates when mixed with readily ingested prey, indicating selectivity. Larvae hatching in winter generally ingested dinoflagellates as readily as did zoeae hatched in spring and summer. Newly hatched larvae ingested a wide variety of dinoflagellates, while discriminating among related species. Such discrimination will not always prevent larval ingestion of prey that will result in mortality.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shannon Point Marine CenterAnacortesUSA

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