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Hyperbenthic and pelagic predators regulate alternate key planktonic copepods in shallow temperate estuaries

R. J. Wasserman A C , T. J. F. Vink B , R. Kramer A and P. W. Froneman A

A Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa.
B Department of Botany, Coastal and Marine Research Unit, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, PO Box 77000, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa.
C Corresponding author. Email: ryanwas21@gmail.com

Marine and Freshwater Research - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF13233
Submitted: 6 September 2013  Accepted: 28 November 2013   Published online: 16 June 2014


 
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Abstract

Although predation has been identified as an important community driver, the role of predator diversity in structuring estuarine zooplankton has not been assessed. As such, we investigated the effects of two different zooplanktivorous fish species on the estuarine zooplankton community during a 12-day mesocosm study. Three experimental treatments were established, whereby natural zooplankton communities were subject to either (1) no predatory pressure, (2) predation by a pelagic predator (Monodactylus falciformis) or (3) predation by a hyper-benthic predator (Glossogobius callidus). The pelagic feeding M. falciformis fed largely on the numerically dominant mid-water copepod species, Paracartia longipatella. In contrast, the hyper-benthic fish had a greater predatory impact on the less numerically dominant copepod, Pseudodiaptomus hessei, which demonstrates strong diel vertical migration. Variations in prey-population regulation are ascribed to the distinct behavioural differences of the predators, and mediated by the differences in behaviour of the copepod species.

Additional keywords: copepod prey, diel vertical migration, niche partitioning, trophic interactions, zooplanktivorous fish.


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