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Grazing Rates in Euplotes mutabilis: Relationship between Particle Size and Concentration

S. A. Wilks and M. A. Sleigh
Microbial Ecology
Vol. 36, No. 2 (Sep. - Oct., 1998), pp. 165-174
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4251591
Page Count: 10
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Grazing Rates in Euplotes mutabilis: Relationship between Particle Size and Concentration
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Abstract

Grazing behavior of both individual cells and populations of the marine hypotrich Euplotes mutabilis, a largely benthic ciliate that feeds on suspended particles, was studied using fluorescent latex microspheres. Microspheres of sizes 0.57-, 1.90-, 3.06-, 5.66-, and 10.0-μm diam were offered at concentrations from 102 to $10^{6}\ {\rm ml}^{-1}$. Their uptake in a ten-min period was determined. Food particles within such ranges of size and concentration are found under natural conditions. The ciliates ingested particles of all sizes offered. Uptake rates at all concentrations were dependent upon particle size, with 1.90- and 3.06-μm diam microspheres having the highest uptake rate in all cases. For all sizes, there was an increase in the percentage of feeding cells and in the uptake rate (the number of particles ingested $\text{cell}^{-1}\ {\rm h}^{-1}$), with increasing particle concentration. When uptake was expressed as the volume ingested, maximum values were obtained for 5.85-μm diam microspheres at a concentration of $10^{6}\ {\rm ml}^{-1}$. By taking a small number of large particles, present at a low concentration in the medium, a ciliate can ingest a greater biovolume than by taking a high number of small particles which are abundant in the medium. These results demonstrate that some ciliates can graze particles of a wide range of sizes. Also, its nutrition can be affected by changing ambient concentrations of different prey, both through effects on the proportion of feeding cells and through the relative food content of the particles. The data can also add to the understanding of food niche partitioning between species. At low particle concentrations, particularly, it is important to consider the behavior of individual ciliates as well as of the whole population.

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