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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 330 - Feature article
Pyrosoma atlanticum conducts diel vertical migrations, and employing continuous jet propulsion it attains the highest clearance rates recorded in zooplankton grazers. Photo: Peter Wirtz

Perissinotto R, Mayzaud P, Nichols PD, Labat JP


Grazing by Pyrosoma atlanticum (Tunicata, Thaliacea) in the south Indian Ocean


Perissinotto and co-workers investigated the feeding dynamics of the pelagic tunicate Pyrosoma atlanticum in the southern Indian Ocean. Colonies showed highest retention efficiency for particles >10 µm, and clearance rates were among the highest recorded in any zooplankton grazer (up to 35 l h–1 per colony). Gut pigment destruction rates exceeded those previously measured in salps and appendicularians. Neutral lipid classes in P. atlanticum were very similar to those of both dinoflagellates and prymnesiophytes; zooids contained small amounts of lipids, and low percentages of triacylglycerols and free fatty acids, which suggests that they use high biomass turnover as an alternative strategy to energy storage.


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