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Growth, Food, and Vulnerability to Damage of the Ctenophore Mnemiopsis mccradyi in its Early Life History Stages

Karen A. Stanlaw, Michael R. Reeve and Mary Ann Walter
Limnology and Oceanography
Vol. 26, No. 2 (Mar., 1981), pp. 224-234
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2835912
Page Count: 11
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Growth, Food, and Vulnerability to Damage of the Ctenophore Mnemiopsis mccradyi in its Early Life History Stages
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Abstract

Newly hatched larvae of ctenophores are so delicate that they can be killed by copepods larger than nauplii. The larvae can withstand starvation for a week, but they need very high concentrations of nauplii to sustain rapid growth, and grow very slowly above 1 mm unless food of larger size is available. Over the first 7 days, larvae can double their weight seven times. Individual growth rate is extremely variable, even among the offspring of a single parent. Although newly hathed larvae have food in their guts <30% of the time, a single food item (nauplius) of similar dry weight contains some 20 times more carbon than the ctenophore. As the larva grows, its consumption rate rapidly increases, the gut remaining full all the time, if food of larger size is available. These complex interactions of both high growth and high mortality of larvae are related to unnaturally high copepod concentrations in the laboratory. Patchiness in nature, however, at present ill defined quantitatively, may provide the explanation for the population's success.

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