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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 652:33-47 (2020)  -  DOI:

Facultative feeding in a marine copepod: effects of larval food and temperature on performance

Alexander N. Gangur*, Dustin J. Marshall

Centre for Geometric Biology, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Most marine invertebrate larvae either feed or rely on reserves provisioned by parents to fuel development, but facultative feeders can do both. Food availability and temperature are key environmental drivers of larval performance, but the effects of larval experience on performance later in life are poorly understood in facultative feeders. In particular, the functional relevance of facultative feeding is unclear. One feature to be tested is whether starved larvae can survive to adulthood and reproduce. We evaluated effects of larval temperature and food abundance on performance in a marine harpacticoid copepod, Tisbe sp. In doing so, we report the first example of facultative feeding across the entire larval stage for a copepod. In a series of experiments, larvae were reared with ad libitum food or with no food, and at 2 different temperatures (20 vs. 24°C). We found that higher temperatures shortened development time, and larvae reared at higher temperature tended to be smaller. Larval food consistently improved early performance (survival, development rate and size) in larvae, while starvation consistently decreased survival, increased development time and decreased size at metamorphosis. Nonetheless, a small proportion (3-9.5%, or 30-42.7% with antibiotics) of larvae survived to metamorphosis, could recover from a foodless larval environment, reach maturity and successfully reproduce. We recommend that future studies of facultative feeding consider the impact of larval environments on adult performance and ability to reproduce.

KEY WORDS: Facultative feeding · Latent effects · Starvation · Larval nutrition strategies · Marine copepod · Tisbe sp.

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Cite this article as: Gangur AN, Marshall DJ (2020) Facultative feeding in a marine copepod: effects of larval food and temperature on performance. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 652:33-47.

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