Coprophagy in copepods and in a natural zooplankton community

Louise K. Poulsen, Thomas Kiørboe

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


Sediment trap studies have revealed that often only a minor fraction of the zooplankton fecal pellet production leave the upper ocean, and it has been suggested that copepod grazing on pellets (coprophagy) is the reason for this. A simple model is here used to estimate rate of coprophagy from lab and field observations. In the lab Acartia tonsa and Temora longicornis have coprophagous behavior and clear fecal pellets at a rate of 10-15 ml/female/d. Observations of fecal pellet production, sedimentation, and abundance collected during a 10-d late summer study in the North Sea revealed that less than 5 % of the fecal pellet production in the upper 50 m was lost as flux below 50 m depth. Estimates of coprophagy rates showed, however, that the zooplankton community > 200 um could account for only a few percent of the fecal pellet loss. Thus, plankton organisms < 200 �m must be responsible for the degradation of the fecal pellets
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2004
Publication statusPublished - 2004
EventASLO/TOS ocean research 2004 conference - Honolulu (US), 15-20 Feb
Duration: 1 Jan 2004 → …


ConferenceASLO/TOS ocean research 2004 conference
CityHonolulu (US), 15-20 Feb
Period01/01/2004 → …

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