Feeding of nauplii, copepodites and adults of Calanipeda aquaedulcis (Calanoida) in Mediterranean salt marshes

Feeding of the different developmental stages of Calanipeda aquaedulcis on natural particles (bacterio-, phyto- and microzooplankton) was measured in a Mediterranean salt marsh (Empordà wetlands, NE Iberian Peninsula). Bottle incubations were performed in the field both in autumn and spring. The results showed differences in the diet of the different developmental stages due to both prey type and size. In general, the size of the ingested prey increased with increasing size of the C. aquaedulcis stage. While C. aquaedulcis adults had high ingestion rates and selection coefficients for large prey (micro- and nanoplankton), nauplii preferentially consumed smaller prey items (picoplankton). Copepodites showed the widest prey size range, including pico-, nano- and microplankton. Nevertheless, the lower size limit for particle capture was similar for all stages, i.e. between 1.7 and 2.1 μm. Omnivory was observed in all stages of C. aquaedulcis. Heterotrophic prey (picoplankton, dinoflagellates and ciliates) were the most ingested items. The ability to partition the available food among the different developmental stages could represent an advantage in times of ood scarcity because it may reduce intraspecific competition. This may explain how C. aquaedulcis is able to predominate in the zooplankton community for several weeks during spring and summer ven in situations of low food availability ​
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