Microzooplankton grazing of phytoplankton in a tropical upwelling region
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- McManus, G.B., Costas, B.A., Dam, H.G. et al. Hydrobiologia (2007) 575: 69. doi:10.1007/s10750-006-0279-9
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We measured grazing by herbivorous zooplankton (<200 μm fraction) in coastal and slope regions of the South Brazil Bight. Using the dilution technique, we performed nine experiments during the austral summer, when nutrient-rich South Atlantic Central Water is present on the shelf, and five during winter. These experiments provide the first estimates of microzooplankton grazing in the western South Atlantic Ocean. Model II regression showed a strong relationship between phytoplankton intrinsic growth rates and grazing, with a slope of 0.64 (±0.28; 95% confidence interval) indicating that microzooplankton grazing could account for the majority of phytoplankton mortality. Both phytoplankton growth and microzooplankton grazing were higher during the summer upwelling season, compared to winter. For the two experiments that were conducted in oligotrophic slope water, grazing accounted for >80% of phytoplankton production. A comparison of incubations with and without added inorganic nutrients showed no consistent stimulation of phytoplankton growth (slope of enriched versus unenriched treatments not significantly different from 1). Estimates from microscopic counts of heterotrophic organisms >10 μm indicated that copepod nauplii comprised the largest share of the microzooplankton biomass (mean 62.4 ± 5.8% SE). Grazing estimates were not correlated with microzooplankton biomass, whether or not nauplii were included, suggesting that most of the grazing was done by nano-sized zooplankton.