Zooplankton body composition

Thomas Kiørboe

Limnol. Oceanogr., 58(5), 2013, 1843-1850 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2013.58.5.1843

ABSTRACT: I compiled literature on zooplankton body composition, from protozoans to gelatinous plankton, and report allometric relations and average body composition. Zooplankton segregate into gelatinous and non-gelatinous forms, with few intermediate taxa (chaetognaths, polychaetes, and pteropods). In most groups body composition is size independent. Exceptions are protozoans, chaetognaths, and pteropods, where larger individuals become increasingly watery. I speculate about the dichotomy in body composition and argue that differences in feeding mechanisms and predator avoidance strategies favor either a watery or a condensed body form, and that in the intermediate taxa the moderately elevated water content is related to buoyancy control and ambush feeding.

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