Estimating microzooplankton grazing half-saturation constants from dilution experiments with nonlinear feeding kinetics

Bingzhang Chen, Edward A. Laws, Hongbin Liu, Bangqin Huang

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To obtain the grazing half-saturation constant (K) of natural microzooplankton assemblages, we used three nonlinear grazing models (rectilinear, Holling type II, and Holling type III) to fit the detailed data (phytoplankton net specific growth rate vs. dilution factor) of individual dilution experiments that show significant concave curves. In the dataset consisting of 528 experiments, 96 experiments show significant concave curves, and the associated chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentrations are significantly higher than those of experiments showing linear or convex curves. Experiments showing concave curves likely reflect that these microzooplankton assemblages were under top-down control. The three models perform equally well in fitting the data. The K values estimated from these 96 experiments vary over three orders of magnitude and are log–log linearly related with ambient Chl a concentrations, but not correlated with temperatures. Estimates of K of natural microzooplankton assemblages tend to be smaller than estimates from laboratory cultures. For the experiments not showing concave curves, it is hard to obtain a robust estimate of K.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-644
Number of pages6
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2014


  • microzooplankton
  • dilution experiments
  • nonlinear feeding kinetics
  • grazing half-saturation constan
  • nonlinear grazing models

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