Use of phytoplankton pigments in estimating food selection of three marine copepods

B. Oechsler-Christensen, Sigrun Jonasdottir, P. Henriksen, P.J. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Experiments were carried out to test the use of algal pigments in zooplankton grazing studies with a special emphasis on estimation of food selection. The results demonstrated that pigment composition of the phytoplankton food was reflected closely in the three copepod species Centropages typicus, Temora longicornis and Acartia tonsa, as well as in their faecal pellets. The fate of the phytoplankton pigments was studied in A. tonsa fed a diatom and a cryptophyte at a low and a high prey concentration. The concentration of gut pigments generally declined rapidly within the first 5–10 min after feeding terminated. The decline in pigment concentration was faster in copepods fed high concentrations of phytoplankton and specially when fed the diatom. However, after 3h of no feeding only minor changes in gut pigment composition were found mainly in alloxanthin, chlorophyll a and diadinoxanthin. Traditional grazing experiments were carried out in parallel with pigment analysis in experiments where the copepod A. tonsa was exposed to a mixture of food organisms. The results demonstrated that the two methods gave similar results with regard to food selection and that with certain precautions, pigment analysis can be successfully used in food selection studies
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)161-172
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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