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Gut fluorescence in herbivorous copepods: an attempt to justify the method

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Recently the gut fluorescence technique has been critisized because of the possible degradation of chlorophyll into nonfluorescent derivatives during passage through copepod guts and changes of the gut passage time with food concentration. Here pigment budgets have been calculated in 6 experiments with Calanus finmarchicus CIV caught 2 km offshore of the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute (the Barents Sea, Dalnije Zelentsi) in September 1992. Copepods were fed with culture of Platymonas viridis at different concentrations. Gut pigment and ingestion rate increased with food concentration in a similar way. On average between 78% and 89% of ingested chlorophyll was recovered in the guts and faecal pellets. No trend for a greater loss of fluorescence at low food concentration than at high was observed. Pigment content of faecal pellets incubated in filtered seawater decreased by 20–30% in the first 7–12 h and by up to 60% in 48 h. The decline of pigment content was accompanied by a rapid bacterial growth (by a factor of 3 in 48 h). Gut passage time increased with decreasing food concentration (from 40 min at 9 µg pigm l−1 to 64 min at 0.9 µg pigm l−1). These results together with some data by other authors suggest that the gut fluorescence method can be used to estimate in situ grazing rate providing gut passage time is measured properly and there are no losses of faecal material. However, careful consideration should be given to the previous feeding history of copepods.

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Pasternak, A.F. Gut fluorescence in herbivorous copepods: an attempt to justify the method. Hydrobiologia 292, 241–248 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00229947

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Key words

  • gut pigment
  • gut passage time
  • pigment degradation
  • ingestion rate
  • herbivorous copepods