Diel feeding behavior and ingestion rate in the copepod Calanus finmarchicus in the southern Gulf of Maine during late spring

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In situ feeding was measured on late stage Calanus finmarchicus in the southern Gulf of Maine during late spring 1988 and 1989. The region is a spring feeding ground for the planktivorous right whale, Eubalaena glacialis. Measurements in 1988 were made during the declining spring bloom, when phytoplankton showed considerable spatial variability. 1989 observations were made after summer stratification had become established, when phytoplankton biomass was low and dominated by the <7 μm size fraction. In situ ingestion rates of C. finmarchicus reflected these differences in food, and ranged from 30.2% body C day-1 at a spring bloom station to 0.6% body C day-1 after stratification. These values compare with a maximum ingestion rate of 44.3% body C day-1 measured in a shipboard grazing experiment using cultured algae as food, and indicate that C. finmarchicus became food limited in the southern Gulf of Maine after stratification. Calanus finmarchicus diet feeding behavior and diet vertical migration patterns changed during the seasonal progression from spring bloom to summer stratification. Diet feeding rhythms and vertical migration were absent during the bloom, but developed as the bloom declined. During the post-bloom stratified conditions, diet feeding rhythms continued but vertical migration ceased. Most of the C. finmarchicus population remained near the surface, while a small population of nonmigratory individuals resided at depth and appeared to be feeding upon sedimented spring bloom diatoms. At the spring bloom station C. finmarchicus ingested only a small proportion of the phytoplankton standing stock in the > 7 μm size fraction (2.9% day-1), reflecting the high biomass of phytoplankton and the stage composition of the C. finmarchicus population, dominated by early copepodite stages with low biomass. In contrast, at the post-bloom stations in 1989, the dense surface aggregations of C. finmarchicus populations were dominated by late copepodite stages whose total biomass was comparable to that of the phytoplankton, and C. finmarchicus consumed a significantly larger fraction of the > 7 μm phytoplankton standing crop (up to 62.5% day-1. © 1994 Elsevier Science Ltd.

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Continental Shelf Research