Size-specific clearance rates of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi based on in situ gut content analyses
Journal article, 2011
The ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi can consume large amounts of zooplankton prey.
However, quantitative measurements of feeding rates, based on field data, are
scarce. We measured the time required by the invasive M. leidyi to digest naturally
occurring prey species in the Gullmar fjord, Sweden. Digestion times were related
to prey size and type, number of prey in the gut and size of the predator. Large
prey species or many prey in the gut resulted in longer digestion times compared
with small or few prey, but digestion time also varied with the size of M. leidyi. The
prey- and predator-specific digestion times were used together with in situ prey
concentrations and gut contents of M. leidyi to calculate the clearance rates.
Clearance rate as a function of ctenophore size is presented for the most abundant
mesozooplankton: Acartia sp., Oithona sp., Oikopleura dioica and Penilia avirostris. On
the basis of the relation between digestion time and the carbon content ratio
between prey and predator, we discuss the possible effects of mixed prey assemblages
on the estimates of clearance rates.