Light and nutrient availability are assumed to largely control the dynamics and trophic efficiency of marine planktonic food webs, and are expected to be influenced by climate change (i.e. changes in stratification due to global warming). During an 8-day mesocosm experiment, we investigated the propagation of light energy up to the copepod trophic level in ultra-oligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean waters. Using mesocosms with light treatments corresponding to ca. 40% (L1) and 4.5% (L4) of the incident light intensity (simulating light conditions at 10 and 50-60 m depths, respectively), we assessed the feeding behaviour of the dominant copepod Clausocalanus furcatus every second day. We hypothesized that increased availability of copepod food at higher light levels would result in increased copepod ingestion rates and selectivity. Our results showed that copepod prey (microbial biomass>5 μm) had only a small increase in the L1 and daily rations (DRs) of C. furcatus were similar among treatments (usually <15% of body carbon). Nevertheless, microplankton was clearly selected in L1, having double the contribution in the DR of C. furcatus compared with L4. A more balanced selective feeding pattern was observed in L4, with nanoplankton also being important in the diet. An increase in the copepod stock in the L1 compared with L4, observed at the end of the experiment, is likely associated with the light-mediated effects on C. furcatus feeding behaviour. We suggest that the importance of light availability on the efficiency of the marine planktonic food web should be further considered by climate change predictive models.
- Clausocalanus furcatus
- eastern mediterranean
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science