Type-3 functional response in limnetic suspension-feeders as demonstrated by in situ grazing rates

Chow-Fraser, P. and W.G. Sprules
(1992) 232: 175-192


Field-measured grazing rates (ml/animal/d) of cladocerans (mostly daphniids) and diaptomids were assembled from various published studies and plotted as a function of corresponding phytoplankton concentration (micrograms/L f.w.). Filtering rates of both zooplankton groups initially increased with seston concentration until maximal grazing rates were observed at approximately 4 x l0**2 and 1 x 10 micrograms/L for cladocerans and copepods, respectively; at higher algal concentrations, filtering rates of both declined as a function of food concentration. The shape of these curves are most consistent with Holling’s (1966) Type 3 functional response.

We found little support for the Type 3 functional response in published laboratory studies of Daphnia; most investigators report either a Type 1 or Type 2 response. The one study in which the Type 3 response was observed involved experiments where animals were acclimated at low food concentrations for 24 h, whereas those studies associated with response Types 1 or 2 had acclimation periods of only 1 to 3 h. We therefore assembled relevant data from the literature to examine the effect of acclimation period on the feeding rates of Daphnia at low food concentrations. In the absence of any acclimation, animals filtered at extremely low rates. After 2 h of acclimation, however, filtering rates increased 4 to 5-fold but declined again with longer durations; after > 70 h of pre-conditioning, filtering rates were almost as low as they had been with no acclimation.

We also found little support for the Type 3 functional response in published studies of copepods. The only study associated with a Type 3 response involved a marine copepod that had been subjected to a starvation period of 48 h; however, an analysis of the effects of acclimation period did not yield conclusive evidence that filtering rates of freshwater copepods (Diaptomus and Eudiaptomus) decrease significantly with acclimation duration.

The low filtering rates associated with long acclimation periods in laboratory experiments appears to be a direct result of animals becoming emaciated from prolonged exposure to low food concentrations, a situation which renders them incapable of high filtering rates. This may explain the Type 3 functional response for field cladocerans, since zooplankton in food-limiting situations are constantly exposed to low food concentrations, and would therefore have low body carbon and consequently less energy to filter-feed. We cannot, however, use this to explain the Type 3 response for field diaptomids, since copepods in the laboratory did not appear to lose body carbon even after 72 h of feeding at very low food levels, and there was inconclusive evidence that either Diaptomus or Eudiaptomus decrease their filtering rates with acclimation period.

Although Incipient Limiting Concentrations (ILC) for Daphnia ranged from 1 to 8.5 x l0**3 micrograms/L, more than half of these fell between 1 and 3 x l0**2 micrograms/L, bracketing the value of 2.7 x l0**2 micrograms/L for field cladocerans. There was, however, a great deal of variation in reported maximum ingestion rates (MIR), maximum filtering rates (MFR) and ILC values for Daphnia magna. ILC values from the few laboratory studies of freshwater copepods ranged between 0.5 to 2.8 x l0**2 micrograms/L, and was higher than the ILC value of approximately 0.2 x l0**2 micrograms/L calculated for field populations of D. minutus. Generally, there was considerable agreement among laboratory studies regarding the shape of grazing-rate and ingestion-rate curves when data were converted to similar units and presented on standardized scales.

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