We investigated trophic relationships involving microzooplankton in the low salinity zone of the San Francisco Estuary (SFE) as part of a larger effort aimed at understanding the dynamics of the food web supporting the endangered delta smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus. We performed 14 cascade experiments in which we manipulated the biomass of a copepod (Limnoithona tetraspina, Pseudodiaptomus forbesi, or Acartiella sinensis) and quantified responses of lower trophic levels including bacterioplankton, phytoplankton, and microzooplankton. Microzooplankton comprised a major food source for copepods; 9 out of 14 experiments showed removal of at least one group of microzooplankton by copepods. In contrast, the impact of copepods on phytoplankton was indirect; increased copepod biomass led to greater growth of phytoplankton in 3 of 14 experiments. Estimated clearance rates on microzooplankton were 4 mL day−1 for L. tetraspina and 2–6 mL day−1 for P. forbesi, whereas A. sinensis consumed mainly copepod nauplii. Complex trophic interactions, including omnivory, among copepods, microzooplankton, and different components of the phytoplankton likely obscured clear trends. The food web of the SFE is probably less efficient than previously thought, providing poor support to higher trophic levels; this inefficient food web is almost certainly implicated in the continuing low abundance of fishes, including the delta smelt that use the low salinity zone of the San Francisco Estuary.
Estuaries and Coasts – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 20, 2013
Read and print from thousands of top scholarly journals.
Already have an account? Log in
Bookmark this article. You can see your Bookmarks on your DeepDyve Library.