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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 407:99-110 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08563

Larval growth in the dominant polychaete Polydora ciliata is food-limited in a eutrophic Danish estuary (Isefjord)

Troels Møller Pedersen1, Rodrigo Almeda2, Frank Lech Fotel1,4, Hans Henrik Jakobsen3, Patrizio Mariani3, Benni Winding Hansen1,*

1Roskilde University, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, PO Box 260, 4000, Roskilde, Denmark
2Institut de Ciènces del Mar, CSIC, P. Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
3National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Kavalergården 6, 2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark
4Present address: DHI Water & Environment, Agern Allé 5, 2970 Hørsholm, Denmark
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Food limitation in larval growth of the spionid polychaete Polydora ciliata was examined in a typical eutrophic estuary, Isefjord, in Denmark. In the field, food availability and the energetic requirements of the P. ciliata larval population were measured during 2 different periods in 2004 and 2007 that together cover the productive part of the year for plankton. In the laboratory, specific growth rates (µ) of larvae reared on natural food suspensions (~0.10 d–1) were always lower than those of larvae reared on phytoplankton-enriched food suspensions (100% retention efficiency for Rhodomonas salina; ~0.21 d–1). Total meroplankton biomass (average: 3.72 µg C l–1, range: 0.11 to 26.05 µg C l–1) was frequently similar to or exceeded that of holoplankton (average: 5.70 µg C l–1, range: 0.08 to 29.89 µg C l–1), suggesting a trophic significance of meroplankton in the estuary. P. ciliata was commonly the dominant meroplanktonic larvae (average: 0.5 µg C l–1, range: 0.03 to 2.51 µg C l–1). The available food in the optimal prey size fraction (2004, average: <20 µm; range: 99 to 274 µg C l–1; 2007, average: 7 to 18 µm; estimated carbon demand: 119 µg C l–1; range: 19 to 474 µg C l–1) seemed to be sufficient to cover the energetic carbon requirements of the population throughout the study (0.09 to 3.15 µg C l–1 d–1), but insufficient to attain the maximum specific growth rates reported in previous laboratory experiments. This suggests that P. ciliata larvae probably exhibit a low feeding efficiency and their maximum specific growth rates are consequently attained at food concentrations even higher than those found in this eutrophic environment.


KEY WORDS: Food limitation · Larval growth · Polydora ciliata · Larvae


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Cite this article as: Pedersen TM, Almeda R, Fotel FL, Jakobsen HH, Mariani P, Hansen BW (2010) Larval growth in the dominant polychaete Polydora ciliata is food-limited in a eutrophic Danish estuary (Isefjord). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 407:99-110. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08563

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