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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 323:205-211 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps323205

Copepod sensitivity to flow fields: detection by copepods of predatory ctenophores

Rebecca J. Waggett1,*, Edward J. Buskey2

1National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, 101 Pivers Island Road, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516-9701, USA
2The University of Texas at Austin, Marine Science Institute, 750 Channel View Drive, Port Aransas, Texas 78373, USA

ABSTRACT: Copepods have the mechanoreceptive abilities to detect velocity gradients generated by approaching predators and the ability to respond to these predators within milliseconds. Ctenophores produce a low-velocity feeding current to entrain slow-swimming and non-motile prey. Since copepod species vary in their sensitivity to hydrodynamic disturbances, it is possible that species will differ in their ability to distinguish flow-generating ctenophores from the surrounding fluid. Predator-prey interactions were recorded between the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi and 3 copepod species, Acartia tonsa, Paracalanus parvus and Temora turbinata. Although A. tonsa is more sensitive to hydrodynamic disturbances, T. turbinata was most successful in escaping the ctenophore predator. T. turbinata entered the inner lobe area (capture surfaces) of the ctenophore significantly less than either A. tonsa or P. parvus and were better able to escape both encounters and contacts with the inner lobes. These results suggest that sensitivity to velocity gradients may play only a minor role in determining escape success and an intermittent swimming pattern may increase susceptibility to capture by flow-generating predators.

KEY WORDS: Mechanoreception · Predator–prey interactions · Ctenophore · Escape behavior

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