Ingestion of Large Centric Diatoms, Mangrove Detritus, and Zooplankton by Zoeae ofAratus pisonii(Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsidae)

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Ingestion rates of zoeae of Aratus pisonii Milne Edwards (Brachyura: Grapsidae) were determined offering natural plankton-detritus mixtures in laboratory food selection experiments. The food mixtures were sampled in the Itamaracá estuary, north-eastern Brazil, and standardised to a size range of 50-200 μm. Zoeae ingested significant amounts of large centric diatoms (Coscinodiscus spp.), mangrove detritus, tintinnids (Favella ehrenbergi) and adult copepods during feeding experiments. Diatoms were positively selected by A. pisonii zoeae in all three experiments, with ingestion rates of 3.3-21.3 cells zoea-1 day-1. Detritus particles were always more abundant than phytoplankton and zooplankton in the particle size spectrum offered. Detritus was ingested in two of three experiments, with ingestion rates of up to 34.1 particles zoea-1 day-1, being the most important food item during one experiment. Adult copepods (up to 1.8 ind. zoea-1 day-1) and tintinnids (up to 0.4 ind. zoea-1 day-1) were ingested by A. pisonii zoeae during one experiment each. In spite of a wide range of zoeal density, food particle composition, and density, zoeae of A. pisonii displayed a consistent pattern of food selectivity. This hints at a consistent sensory and behavioural mechanism related to capture and handling of food particles, that most likely also affects larval feeding under natural conditions. Although detritus showed to be quantitatively ingested under estuarine conditions, zoeae of A. pisonii preferred large diatoms and ingested zooplankton only occasionally.

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