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Food selection by calanoid copepods in response to between-lake variation in food abundance


Demott,  William R.
Department Ecophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Limnology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Demott, W. R. (1995). Food selection by calanoid copepods in response to between-lake variation in food abundance. Freshwater Biology, 33(2), 171-180.

1. Food selection experiments were conducted by acclimating calanoid copepods (Eudiaptomus spp.) in suspensions of natural seston and then adding pairs of dual-labelled (C-14/P-32) algae. Each feeding trial measured selectivity between a small, high-quality reference alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardii, and a test alga that differed in size and/or food quality. The influence of food concentration on food selection was tested by using seston from two lakes with contrasting food abundance and by including treatments with filtered lake water ('starved') and seston diluted with filtered water or enriched with cultured algae. 2. Copepods that had been starved or acclimated to natural seston with low food abundance preferred the larger of two labelled algae, regardless of the nutritional quality of the algae. In agreement with the predictions of an optimal diet model, however, copepods that were acclimated to high food conditions discriminated against low-quality foods, including digestion-resistant algae and dead algae. 3. Selectivity coefficients showed excellent agreement with a previous study involving the same taxa of copepods and labelled algae but in which the copepods had been acclimated to pairs of cultured algae rather than natural seston. Thus, these comparisons emphasize the importance of food availability in modulating copepod selectivity for foods that differ in nutritional quality and suggest that such behaviour occurs in nature