To investigate whether predator growth and grazing would depend on prey properties besides size, we studied the numerical and functional responses of a marine oligotrichous ciliate isolated in Hong Kong coastal waters, Strobilidium sp., on two nanoplanktonic preys of similar size. The growth and ingestion rates of Strobilidium sp. could be fit with prey concentrations by hyperbolic curves. Strobilidium sp. exhibited higher maximal growth rates and gross growth efficiencies, and lower maximal clearance rates on Nannochloropsis sp. than on Isochrysis galbana. Our results demonstrate that prey properties presumably food quality can have a considerable effect on predator growth and grazing and implications on phytoplankton community structure and biogeochemical cycling.
- food quality