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Journal Articles Biogeochemistry Year : 2007

Zooplankton grazing on Phaeocystis: a quantitative review and future challenges

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The worldwide colony-forming haptophyte phytoplankton Phaeocystis spp. are key organisms in trophic and biogeochemical processes in the ocean. Many organisms from protists to fish ingest cells and/or colonies of Phaeocystis. Reports on specific mortality of Phaeocystis in natural plankton or mixed prey due to grazing by zooplankton, especially protozooplankton, are still limited. Reported feeding rates vary widely for both crustaceans and protists feeding on even the same Phaeocystis types and sizes. Quantitative analysis of available data showed that: (1) laboratory-derived crustacean grazing rates on monocultures of Phaeocystis may have been overestimated compared to feeding in natural plankton communities, and should be treated with caution; (2) formation of colonies by P. globosa appeared to reduce predation by small copepods (e.g., Acartia, Pseudocalanus, Temora and Centropages), whereas large copepods (e.g., Calanus spp.) were able to feed on colonies of Phaeocystis pouchetii; (3) physiological differences between different growth states, species, strains, cell types, and laboratory culture versus natural assemblages may explain most of the variations in reported feeding rates; (4) chemical signaling between predator and prey may be a major factor controlling grazing on Phaeocystis; (5) it is unclear to what extent different zooplankton, especially protozooplankton, feed on the different life forms of Phaeocystis in situ. To better understand the mechanisms controlling zooplankton grazing in situ, future studies should aim at quantifying specific feeding rates on different Phaeocystis species, strains, cell types, prey sizes and growth states, and account for chemical signaling between the predator and prey. Recently developed molecular tools are promising approaches to achieve this goal in the future.

Dates and versions

hal-03504952 , version 1 (30-12-2021)



Jens C. Nejstgaard, Kam W. Tang, Michael Steinke, Joerg Dutz, Marja Koski, et al.. Zooplankton grazing on Phaeocystis: a quantitative review and future challenges. Biogeochemistry, 2007, 83 (1-3), pp.147-172. ⟨10.1007/s10533-007-9098-y⟩. ⟨hal-03504952⟩
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