MEPS 549:27-40 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11702

Differential feeding and growth of Noctiluca scintillans on monospecific and mixed diets

Shuwen Zhang1, Hongbin Liu1,*, Cui Guo1, Paul J. Harrison2

1Division of Life Science, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong SAR
2Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Growth and feeding experiments using monospecific and mixed diets were conducted to investigate Noctiluca scintillans’ food preference, and the influence of prey composition on its prey consumption and growth rates. In the feeding experiments on 14 monospecific diets of autotrophic and heterotrophic plankton, growth and feeding of N. scintillans showed no significant relationship with the cell size or swimming motility of the prey, but it generally grew better on diatoms and chlorophytes than other plankton. On the mixed diets composed of the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii and a nutritionally superior (Platymonas helgolandica, chlorophyte), inferior (Prorocentrum dentatum, autotrophic dinoflagellate) or poor (Lepidodinium sp., heterotrophic dinoflagellate) prey (in terms of the ability to support N. scintillans growth), N. scintillans’ feeding preference seemed to depend on the prey abundance in short (6 h) incubations. However, as incubation time increased (2 d), N. scintillans generally preferentially consumed the superior prey in food mixtures, regardless of prey abundance. Growth of N. scintillans on mixed diatom-dinoflagellate diets benefited from the increase of diatoms in the diets, but rates were lower than that achieved on T. weissflogii alone. When fed with diatom-chlorophyte prey pairs, growth of N. scintillans was slightly higher on the mixtures than on the single diatom diet, but there was no significant difference among them. Therefore, the dietary choice of N. scintillans may be a trade-off between maximizing food and nutrient intake and minimizing the energy cost of handling different prey. Such feeding strategies of N. scintillans should have great ecological significance on plankton bloom formation and succession.


KEY WORDS: Noctiluca scintillans · Monospecific and mixed diets · Feeding preference · Growth rates · Ingestion rates · Digestion time


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Cite this article as: Zhang S, Liu H, Guo C, Harrison PJ (2016) Differential feeding and growth of Noctiluca scintillans on monospecific and mixed diets. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 549:27-40. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11702

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