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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 135:223-235 (1996)  -  doi:10.3354/meps135223

Chlorophyll destruction by Calanus spp. grazing on phytoplankton: kinetics, effects of ingestion rate and feeding history, and a mechanistic interpretation

Head EJH, Harris LR

Chlorophyll destruction by Calanus spp. grazing on phytoplankton (diatoms and Phaeocystis) was assessed at stations in the Labrador Sea and off Labrador and Newfoundland (Canada). Copepods were fed at natural or diluted food concentrations over several (4 to 8) sequential 12 h feeding periods. Initial chlorophyll concentrations were between 0.2 and 19 ug l-1, and degrees of chlorophyll destruction were between 20 and 100%. For replicate incubations, degrees of chlorophyll destruction were similar. Over all experiments degrees of destruction were generally high and variable at low ingestion rates (<50 ng chl mg-1 h-1), decreasing to a limit of about 45% at higher ingestion rates. The relationship between ingestion rate and degree of chlorophyll destruction was not obviously affected by differences in in situ conditions (e.g. stage of the spring bloom). Filtration rates, by contrast, did vary, decreasing in the presence of an apparently noxious food (Phaeocystis) and sometimes increasing during experiments, perhaps in response to increasing hunger. Faecal pellets, collected from copepods fed at natural food concentrations, did not leak pigment over a 4 d period, and neither chlorophyll nor phaeopigment was lost as copepods with food in their guts were allowed to defecate for 3 h in filtered seawater. These results suggest that most chlorophyll destruction occurs at an early stage of feeding, and that phaeopigments are not intermediates. When we assumed in a simple model that the 'bleaching' reaction was enzymatically mediated, we found that enzyme activity varied linearly with initial ingestion rate, with a positive y-intercept. One interpretation of this is that there are 2 pools of enzyme activity: one associated with the copepods and the other with the phytoplankton. The algal enzymes are normally latent, but are activated by the physical break-up of cells during ingestion. At low ingestion rates the copepod enzyme can destroy all, or most, of the ingested chlorophyll, whereas at higher ingestion rates more of the destruction is due to the algal enzymes. The high variability in degrees of chlorophyll destruction reported here and elsewhere can be explained partly by differences between algal foods (e.g. differences in levels of the bleaching enzyme), partly by differences in copepod behaviour (e.g. effects on filtration rates), and partly by differences in experimental conditions, which affect the range of ingestion rates exhibited during an incubation (e.g. density of copepods, duration of incubation).

Copepod grazing . Chlorophyll destruction . Kinetics . Ingestion rate . Enzyme mediation

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