Blooms of tunicates Oikopleura spp. and Dolioletta gegenbauri in the Seto Inland Sea, Japan, during summer

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Abstract

The ecological importance of appendicularians Oikopleura dioica and O. longicauda, and a doliolid Dolioletta gegenbauri as metazoan secondary producers was assessed in summer 1997 in the Seto Inland Sea, Japan. Blooms by the appendicularians occurred twice within a month following peaks of pico-/nanoplankton biomass. The biomass of Oikopleura spp. averaged over the water column ( ranged 0.1 to 8.0 μgC l-1 and temporal average of over the survey period () was 3.2 μgC l-1, 70% of for calanoid copepods. Furthermore, the temporal average of the production for Oikopleura spp. was 2.4 times higher than that for calanoids, reflecting the extraordinary high growth rates of the appendicularians. D. gegenbauri developed its population following a diatom bloom and reached to 37 μgC l-1 at the peak time. Although individuals of D. gegenbauri were seldom observed during the first half of the survey, for the doliolid (8.4 μgC l-1) nearly doubled that for calanoids. These results indicate that the gelatinous tunicates Oikopleura spp. and D. gegenbauri play important roles as metazoan secondary producers in the Seto Inland Sea during summer.

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