Significance of food type for growth of ephyrae Aurelia aurita (Scyphozoa)
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We studied growth of newly released Aurelia aurita ephyra larvae fed five different food types, including a large-sized copepod, a phytoflagellate, and suspended POM (particulate organic matter) made from bivalve meat. Experiments were run at saturated food concentration in two different temperatures over 10 days. The effect of small differences in temperature was inconsistent and interacted with the effect of food type, which, in turn, was highly significant. A low average growth rate (4–9% day–1) was shown when feeding on the large-sized copepod Calanus finmarchicus (80 µg AFDW individual–1), in spite of an extremely high daily ration of up to 1500% of body AFDW. When feeding on the cryptophyte Rhodomonas baltica (ca. 8 µm cell diameter), the ephyrae showed an average growth rate over the 10 day experiment of 7–11%, but with a considerably higher growth rate during the first days. Suspended POM generated an average growth rate of 7–9% day–1, whereas fresh bivalve meat, manually placed into the stomach of the ephyra, gave an average growth rate of 12–14% day–1. Artemia nauplii (ca. 3 µg AFDW individual–1), used as a general reference, resulted in higher growth rates than any of the other food types (17–31% day–1). We conclude that A. aurita ephyrae can capture and feed on phytoplankton, large copepods, and POM; that phytoplankton might be of nutritive significance early in development; and that the high quantity of large-sized copepods ingested is inefficiently converted to growth during early development. POM is a potential food source because of the ability of the ephyrae to encounter and ingest it, although concentration, size distribution, and nutritional composition of natural POM probably constrain its effect on growth.
KeywordsPhytoplankton General Reference Bivalve High Growth Rate Particulate Organic Matter
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