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Keywords:

  • Active tidal mixing bay;
  • copepods;
  • diel feeding rhythms;
  • grazing impacts

Abstract

This study examined monthly feeding rates and grazing impact on phytoplankton biomass, as well as diel feeding rhythms of four key copepod species in a tidally well mixed estuary (Asan Bay, Korean Peninsula). Monthly ingestion rates estimated based on gut pigment analysis were closely associated with their peak densities, but not with phytoplankton biomass, implying high ingestion may be related to reproductive output for population growth. The three smaller copepods, Acartia hongi, Acartia pacifica and Paracalanus parvus, showed feeding preference for smaller phytoplankton (<20 μm) with higher clearance rates, whereas the larger Calanus sinicus preferred larger phytoplankton. Acartia pacifica and P. parvus showed distinct increased nocturnal feeding rates as measured with gut fluorescence, whereas A. hongi showed no significant day–night differences. Copepod diel feeding patterns were not associated with food quantity, and endogenous physiological rhythm might be hypothesized as responsible for the observed diel feeding patterns. Grazing impact on phytoplankton biomass by the four copepods in the estuary was on average 8% (range 0.2–29.8%) of the phytoplankton standing stock, similar to values reported in other coastal waters. Very high copepod abundances but low daily carbon ration (<20% for all copepods) provided by feeding on phytoplankton indicate that copepods also grazed on other non-phytoplankton foods in Asan Bay.