MEPS 204:65-77 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps204065

On the trophic coupling between protists and copepods in arctic marine ecosystems

Henrik Levinsen1,*, Jefferson T. Turner2, Torkel G. Nielsen1, Benni W. Hansen3

1National Environmental Research Institute, Department of Marine Ecology, Frederiksborgvej 399, PO Box 358, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
2University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Center for Marine Science and Technology, 706 South Rodney French Boulevard, New Bedford, Massachusetts 02744, USA
3Roskilde University, Department of Life Sciences and Chemistry, PO Box 260, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
*E-mail: hle@

ABSTRACT: Grazing experiments were conducted at different seasons with the large Calanus finmarchicus, C. glacialis and C. hyperboreus, and the small Acartia longiremis in Disko Bay, West Greenland and Young Sound, NE Greenland. Female copepods incubated in 200 µm screened natural water preferred large protists. Thus, particularly during the post-bloom period, the relatively large heterotrophic protists (ciliates and heterotrophic dinoflagellates) contributed substantially to the trophic coupling between protists and copepods. However, low grazing by C. glacialis and C. hyperboreus in mid-June suggests that large parts of the populations of these species had terminated feeding at this time, prior to overwintering. Clearance increased with ciliate and dinoflagellate size above 10 µm equivalent spherical diameter (ESD), equal to the size of the smallest heterotrophic protists. At a size of 30 to 40 µm ESD maximum clearance was observed. Grazing on Phaeocystis single cells of 5 µm by C. finmarchicus showed a lower size-limit for capture of this species <5 µm which contrasts with C. glacialis and C. hyperboreus, which had a lower size-limit near 10 µm. In addition to size and relative concentrations of phytoplankton and heterotrophic protists, prey and/or predator behavior is suggested to play an important role for copepod feeding.

KEY WORDS: Calanus spp. · Acartia longiremis · Omnivory · Ciliates · Heterotrophic dinoflagellates · Trophic coupling · Particle spectra · Plankton food web · Arctic

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