Sapphirinid copepods as predators of doliolids: Their role in doliolid mortality and sinking flux
Limnol. Oceanogr., 58(6), 2013, 1972-1984 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2013.58.6.1972
ABSTRACT: We investigated predatory behavior of sapphirinid copepods on doliolids around the Kuroshio Extension at stations experiencing blooms of Dolioletta gegenbauri. Onboard observations showed that adult Sapphirina nigromaculata was an active predator of doliolids, with a preference for internal tissues. When entering a doliolid body cavity, sapphirinids left a characteristic bite mark around the fringe of oral and atrial aperture or hole on the tunic of the doliolid. In situ observations with a video plankton recorder (VPR) revealed that association between sapphirinids and doliolids was common in the field. Adult sapphirinids and doliolids exhibiting the characteristic evidence of an attack (bite mark or hole) were found in sediment traps at a depth of 50 m, indicating that the association between these taxa was due to predation. Early copepodites, which were not observed in sediment-trap samples, appeared in the VPR observations to have a semi-parasitic phase when they attached themselves to nurse chains. The maximal daily ration of sapphirinids estimated by onboard experiments ranged between 29% and 37% of their body carbon weight. Although the mean predation effect by sapphirinids on the doliolid population biomass was only 0.7% d−1, sapphirinids potentially had a greater effect on doliolid abundance at the termination of doliolid blooms. Some of the attacked doliolids were discarded by the sapphirinids and contributed to the sinking flux below 150 m, the importance of which as a source of detritus likely increased with depth. Sapphirinids, despite their relatively low abundance in the water column, play a specific role in driving community succession and biogeochemical cycling.