Egg and faecal pellet production rates, and their functional response to food and temperature, were measured for the Antarctic copepod Metridia gerlachei during January 1996. The study area comprised the Gerlache and Bransfield Straits and Drake Passage. The highest rates of 'in situ' egg and faecal pellet production were observed in Gerlache stations, coinciding with chlorophyll a concentrations approaching food saturation levels. In the Bransfield and Drake stations, with very low chlorophyll concentrations, the rates of egg production were either very low, or no eggs were produced. Egg production rates, although well correlated with 'in situ' chlorophyll values, appeared to be independent of food concentration on a short time-scale (24-h incubations), while the production of faecal pellets was closely related to food abundance in the same experiments. In general, the rates of egg production were low, even at food saturation, with a very high individual variability. Although in the majority of Gerlache stations about 50% of total chlorophyll a corresponded to the phytoplankton size-fraction > 10 μm, M. gerlachei feeds preferentially on the < 10-μm fraction. Temperature had no clear effects on egg production rate but had a significant effect on pellet production rates, with maximum values at 2.5°C. These features appear to agree with the reproductive strategy attributed to the species, based on a relatively low rate of egg production extended over a long reproductive period.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)