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Free Content Energetic and Behavioral Implications of Pulsed Food Availability for Zooplankton

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Evidence that short-term food deprivation can appreciably increase the subsequent ingestion rate has led to speculation in the literature that zooplankton might eat as much or more by feeding intermittently. Our calculations suggest that patchy food may result in equivalent or increased growth only if some or all the following conditions are met: (1) sufficient increase in the post-deprivation ingestion rate above the rate when food is available continuously; (2) slow decline in the enhanced post-deprivation ingestion rate; (3) no appreciable change in the assimilation efficiency for post-deprivation ingestion compared to continuous food availability; (4) sufficiently small metabolic demands associated with feeding. Patterns predicted from our calculations are consistent with the limited experimental investigations of pulsed food availability, and suggest that some zooplankton are well adapted to patchy food, while others are not. Results of pulsed feeding experiments presented here for two species of ctenophores, Mnemiopsis mccradyi and Pleurobrachia bachei, show that intermittent feeding was energetically inferior to continuous feeding, even when prey availability was equal. Heterogeneous prey distribution would therefore seem to be advantageous only if the ctenophores are able to remain in areas of higher than average prey density.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1988

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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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