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Free Content Feeding Mechanisms in Marine and Freshwater Zooplankton

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The traditional view of “simple” feeding mechanisms in zooplankton is being replaced in almost every taxonomic group by a more complex picture of multiple, variable mechanisms affected by a wide array of internal and environmental characteristics. Holling's “components of predation” approach can be used to break down herbivorous and carnivorous feeding processes into a series of sequential steps; encounter, pursuit, capture and ingestion. Some zooplankters encounter prey only upon physical contact, while others detect them remotely through mechanoreception, chemoreception or vision. Pursuit may involve the generation of feeding currents, the luring of prey to capture surfaces, or more oriented responses towards individual prey items using the entire body or specific appendages. The capture of particles has traditionally been viewed as a sieving process, but sieving is replaced or supplemented by other mechanisms in many taxa. Following capture, ingestion may be regulated by various means of rejecting particles with appendage or ciliary motions, or by regurgitation. Remaining questions about feeding mechanisms include the size of the reactive volume within which prey are detected, the specificity of chemical and mechanical signals, and the degree to which chemical and mechanical “noise” interferes with remote detections in situ. The fluid mechanics of capture remains unknown for many taxonomic groups, as does the frequency of pre- and post-capture rejections. By conducting future studies within the framework of Holling's model, the effect of various mechanisms on feeding rates and selectivity could be quantified, and detailed behavioral studies could be translated into a language useful to population and community-level studies.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1988-11-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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