MEPS 170:169-187 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/meps170169

Effect of food quality on rate of growth and development of the pelagic copepod Pseudocalanus elongatus (Copepoda, Calanoida)

Marja Koski*, Wim Klein Breteler, Nelleke Schogt

Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
*Present address: Department of Ecology and Systematics, Division of Hydrobiology, PO Box 17, Fin-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Rates of body growth, development and egg production of Pseudocalanus elongatus were measured in the laboratory, in relation to the taxonomy and physiology of algal food. Four types of experiments were performed to measure the copepod's response to (1) 7 algal species of similar size and shape, but different taxonomic groups, (2) inferior food species that were offered with good food as a check of toxicity, (3) nitrogen limitation and the growth rate of food species, and (4) highly unsaturated fatty acids that were supplied with inferior food to test for lack of essential fatty acids. Grazing was measured to check that the offered food was really ingested. The best food species proved to be Rhodomonas sp., which induced a fast rate of development, good somatic growth and egg production and low mortality. The development rate was almost equally fast with Thalassiosira weissflogii, Gymnodinium simplex and Tetraselmis suecica, but the rates of somatic growth or egg production were lower and mortality generally higher than with Rhodomonas sp. Three algal species, Dunaliella sp., Amphidinium sp. and Chrysochromulina polylepis, were poor food; copepod development was not completed, the rates of somatic growth and egg production were low and mortality was high. Ingestion was equally high with most of the species; only C. polylepis was not eaten. No clear toxic effects were found when the 3 poor-food species were offered in mixtures with Rhodomonas sp. N-limited Rhodomonas sp. did not reduce the rate of copepod development in comparison to a N-replete culture; however, N-limited T. weissflogii reduced the development rate to the low level of poor-food species. No effect of different growth rates of Dunaliella sp. was found. Lipids rich in highly unsaturated fatty acids supplied with Dunaliella sp. did not substantially improve the slow development and low egg production observed with this species. The weight-specific somatic growth rate was always higher than the weight-specific egg production rate, especially with less optimal food, which seems to hamper the estimation of the secondary production of copepods based on egg production alone. It is concluded that large differences in the food quality of different algal species are due to differences in digestibility or in mineral and biochemical composition.

KEY WORDS: Copepod · Food quality · Development · Somatic growth · Egg production · Taxonomy · N-limitation · Growth rate · Fatty acids · Secondary production

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