Community-level and species-specific responses of coastal phytoplankton to the presence of two mesozooplanktonic grazers


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Abstract

The response of phytoplankton to the presence of two mesozooplanktonic grazers was studied in a 44-h laboratory experiment from the phytoplankton perspective. The <45-μm-filtered plankton community, as well as females of the copepod Eurytemora affinis and nauplii of the barnacle Balanusimprovisus originated from the northern Baltic Sea. The phytoplankton community was dominated by the dinoflagellate Heterocapsa triquetra, which was preferred as food by the mesozooplanktonic grazers, especially E. affinis. Cryptophytes were eaten by the B. improvisus nauplii, while heterotrophic nanoflagellates increased in the presence of B. improvisus nauplii, and colonial cyanobacteria increased in the presence of E. affinis. Because of the strong selective feeding on the dominant, large-sized phytoplankton species, the negative effect of the mesozooplanktonic grazers on total chlorophyll a was stronger than any cascade effect releasing phytoplankton from protozoan grazing.

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