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Patterns of prey selectivity in the cyclopoid copepod Mesocyclops thermocyclopoides
Rao, R.T.; Kumar, R. (2002). Patterns of prey selectivity in the cyclopoid copepod Mesocyclops thermocyclopoides. Aquat. Ecol. 36(3): 411-424
In: Aquatic Ecology. Springer: Dordrecht; London; Boston. ISSN 1386-2588, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Food; Predation; Prey selection; Mesocyclops thermocyclopoides Harada, 1931 [WoRMS]; Fresh water

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  • Rao, R.T.
  • Kumar, R.

    In the shallow and eutrophic subtropical aquatic ecosystems, which it generally inhabits, the omnivorous copepod Mesocyclops thermocyclopoides encounters a wide variety of animal prey types including ciliates, rotifers, and cladocerans. We studied prey selectivity in laboratory-reared adult females of this species given a choice of (i) prey types belonging to different taxa (ciliates, rotifers, cladocerans, and cyclopoid nauplii), and (ii) different prey species within a taxonomic group differing in body size, morphology or behaviour. We also tested the effect of different proportions of prey species on its selectivity. Prey type proportion had no significant effect on selectivity of the copepod, nor was there any evidence of switching based on the relative abundance of prey. Among the ciliate prey species tested, the largest species, Stylonychia mytilus was positively selected regardless of its relative abundance, while the smallest, S. notophora was selected only when its density was higher. Offered a choice of three species of a brachionid rotifer differing in size, the copepod selected the largest of them, Brachionus calyciflorus, and avoided the smallest B. angularis. The evasive rotifer Hexarthra mira was also avoided. When prey choice included three cladoceran species Daphnia similoides, Moina macrocopa and Ceriodaphnia cornuta, the copepod selected the intermediate-sized M. macrocopa regardless of the abundance of the other two species. Although it fed on Mesocyclops nauplii when there was no choice, M. thermocyclopoides avoided them when alternative food was available. In a multispecies prey choice test, the copepod selected predominantly the rotifer B. calyciflorus and the cladoceran M. macrocopa. We suggest that the prey selectivity patterns shown by M. thermocyclopoides are adaptive in that they lead to ingestion of the most profitable prey.

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