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Exploring nonlinear functional responses of zooplankton grazers in dilution experiments via optimization techniques

Sandhu, S.K., Morozov, A.Y., Mitra, A. ORCID: and Flynn, K. 2019. Exploring nonlinear functional responses of zooplankton grazers in dilution experiments via optimization techniques. Limnology and Oceanography 64 (2) , pp. 774-784. 10.1002/lno.11073

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Understanding complex dynamics of planktonic ecosystems requires good knowledge of predator functionalresponses, especially for microzooplankton grazers. Although natural microzooplankton communities are highlydiverse, we often need to quantify microzooplankton grazing at the macrolevel, considering them as a single“box.”Here, we consider community microzooplankton predation rates as a function of their prey abundance.Estimating the functional response of microzooplankton as a function of bulk prey often exploits the dilutionapproach: joint incubation experiments of grazers and their prey where samples are subjected to a range of dilu-tion factors. However, the classic methodology appears reliable only for a simple linear functional response ofgrazers and it requires appropriate adjustments for nonlinearity and saturation of food consumption at highprey abundance. We explore how recently suggested methods applying nonlinear functional responses of bulkmicrozooplankton grazing can be enhanced to provide more robust results. We argue that different formula-tions of the functional response should befitted to the data and that an appropriate choice of dilution factorsin experiments can substantially improve the accuracy of feeding rate estimation. Pragmatically, our work showsthat for oligotrophic ecosystems, it is best to run incubations where the majority of dilution factors are close toD= 1 (undiluted), whereas, for eutrophic waters, dilution factors should be run close toD= 0 as well asD=1.Furthermore, running equidistant dilution factors represents a waste of effort; it is more important to run atfewer values ofDwith greater replication.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)
ISSN: 0024-3590
Date of Acceptance: 10 February 2018
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 09:37

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