Feeding biology of three euphausiid species in the vicinity of the Prince Edward Archipelago (Southern Ocean)
Abstract (Summary)The feeding biology of three euphausiid species, Euphausia vallentini (adults and juveniles), E. longirostris and Nematoscelis megalops was investigated during austral autumn (April/May) of 1998 and 1999, in the vicinity of the Prince Edward Islands (Southern Ocean). Data on the abundance and biomass of these species, estimated from bongo net tows, were investigated. Trophic position was assessed using gut contents and stable nitrogen isotope measurements. Feeding rate and daily carbon ration were estimated using the gut fluorescence and the gut fullness techniques. Vertical migrations into the surface waters at night were found to be strong for Euphausia vallentini adults and juveniles. Associated with these migrations were clear diel feeding patterns. Insufficient data during daylight hours for E. longirostris made it impossible to determine diel feeding patterns, but high feeding activity did occur during dark hours. Nematoscelis megalops did not show any distinct diel feeding pattern, but slightly higher gut fullness indices in the late afternoon suggested that feeding activity may have been highest during this period. For both Euphausia spp. high gut pigment levels were recorded in 1999, which corresponded to higher ambient chlorophyll a concentrations for that year. Highest initial gut pigment levels and highest ingestion rates were found for Euphausia longirostris in both years and lowest values were observed for N. megalops. High phytoplankton and low metazoan contributions to the diet of Euphausia vallentini juveniles, as shown in the gut content analysis, and low stable nitrogen isotope ratios (ð[superscript 15]N = 1.39±0.31), both indicated that this group was principally herbivorous. The results of gut content analysis of the adults of E. vallentini were similar to those of the juveniles, however, stable nitrogen isotope results showed that there was a higher degree of omnivory (ð[superscript 15]N = 3.81±0.66). Daily ration estimates from the gut fluorescence and fullness techniques showed that between 3.3 and 25.7 % of E. vallentini adults total daily carbon ration was derived from autotrophic sources. Although the contribution of carnivory to the diet was difficult to determine, the adults of this species may be considered omnivorous. Irrespective of the degree of carnivory, a dietry shift with an increase in size was evident for this species. Gut content analysis for Euphausia longirostris showed that this species consumed large amounts of both phytoplankton and metazoan prey and this was reflected in the stable nitrogen isotope results (ð[superscript 15]N = 6.88±0.60). These findings were supported by the results of the daily carbon ration estimates which showed that autotrophic carbon contributed between 6.9 and 20.3 % of the daily carbon consumption. The gut content analysis suggested that N. megalops was omnivorous, and the stable nitrogen isotope results place it in a trophic position equivalent to that of E. longirostris (ð[superscript 15]N = 6.83±0.78). Calculations from daily ration estimates suggested that only 3.1 % in 1998, and 3.2 % in 1999, of the carbon ingested was of autotrophic origin. This species may therefore be considered carnivorous. Implications of the findings of this study are discussed in terms of carbon cycling in the Southern Ocean.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/2000