Marine Biology

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

The annual cycle of protozooplankton in the Kiel Bight

  • V. Smetacek


Protozooplankton (heterotrophic dinoflagellates and ciliates) composition and biomass was studied in a 20-m water column in the Kiel Bight on 44 occasions between January 1973 and April 1974. Both groups attained comparable biomass maxima during spring and autumn (0.3 to 0.7 g C m-2 in the 20-m water column) and biomass levels were much lower in summer and lowest in winter. The spring protozooplankton maximum coincided with that of phytoplankton and during the rest of the year, protozooplankton stocks did not appear to be food limited as phytoplankton stocks were large throughout; many protozoans with ingested microplankton cells were observed, indicating that their potential food supply is not restricted to nanoplankton. Non-loricate organisms dominated biomass of the ciliates and tintinnids were of little importance. Tintinnids predominated in plankton samples concentrated by 20 μm gauze indicating that most non-loricate ciliates, irrespective of size, were not retained. When phytoplankton sotcks were large (>3 g C m-2) but those of metazooplankton small, as in spring and autumn, protozooplankton were the major herbivores with biomass levels comparable to those attained in summer by metazooplankton (≈ 0.5 g C m-2). A highly significant negative correlation was found between protozooplankton and metazooplankton during the plankton growth season. Predation by the latter is thus an important factor regulating size of the protozooplankton population, although other factors also appear to be in operation. Loss rates of the pelagic system through sedimentation are highest in spring and autumn when protozooplankton dominate the grazing community and loss rates are much lower in summer when metazooplankton are the dominant herbivores. Apparently, the impact of protozooplankton grazing on the pelagic system is quite different to that of the metazooplankton.


Biomass Phytoplankton Loss Rate Dinoflagellate Plankton Sample 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Smetacek
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Meereskunde an der Universität KielKiel 1Germany (FRG)

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