Original Articles

Comparative ecology of the copepods Calanoides carinatus and Calanus agulhensis — the influence of temperature and food


Abstract

Hypotheses regarding temperature, food abundance and food size were tested to explore niche separation between Calanoides carinatus, an abundant copepod in the cool and food-rich southern Benguela upwelling system, and Calanus agulhensis, the dominant copepod on the warmer, relatively food-poor Agulhas Bank off the south coast of South Africa. Under non-limiting food conditions, egg production by both species increased linearly with temperatures between 9°C and 18°C. Egg production by C. carinatus was relatively faster at 21°C, but was offset by greater mortality. Both species showed similar functional responses to food concentration in the field, reaching satiation at ∼15mg Chl a m−3, or ∼3–4ppm. Food abundance was the most important predictor of egg production, whether measured as Chl a or as particle volume. Both species preferred larger particles that dominated the biomass peak, but particle size appeared more important for C. carinatus, with increasingly faster rates of egg production as the proportion of large cells (>10μm) exceeded 50%, and slower ingestion of small (<10μm) cells. Omnivory may be more important to C. agulhensis. Niche separation between the two species appears unrelated to temperature, food abundance or diel vertical migratory behaviour, and is more likely a function of variability in food availability, although food size may also play a role.

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