Abstract

The majority of sediment-dwelling foraminifera are thought to be deposit feeders. They use their reticulopodia to gather sediment with associated algae, organic detritus, and bacteria. Uptake of diatoms by foraminifera have been observed but rarely quantified. We measured the clearance (gathering) rate and ingestion rate of diatoms by the common benthic foraminifer Quinqueloculina seminula using Nitzschia closterium as prey under laboratory culture conditions. Grazing experiments were performed to evaluate the effects of temperature (at 12, 15, 18, 21, and 24°C) and food availability (10 to 800 cells mm−2) on uptake rates of diatoms. The clearance rates, estimated from the disappearance of food items, were variable (0.59–4.4 mm2 foram−1 h−1) and did not show a clear relationship with food availability. The maximum clearance rates increased from 1.80 ± 0.21 to 2.69 ± 0.32 mm2 foram−1 h−1 when temperature increased from 12 to 18°C and decreased to 2.28 ± 0.25 mm2 foram−1 h−1 at 24°C. Ingestion rates varied from 1.0 to 43 × 103 diatoms foram−1 h−1, following a hyperbolic response to food concentrations at all experimental temperatures. The maximum individual ingestion rates increased from 842 ± 180 to 1648 ± 480 (mean ± SE) cells foram−1 h−1 and then decreased to 316 ± 54 cells foram−1 h−1 as temperature increased from 12 to 24°C. Experimental results revealed that 12–18°C was the optimal temperature range for Q. seminula feeding for specimens adapted to local conditions. Our study indicates that Q. seminula plays an ecological role by feeding upon benthic diatoms in marine benthic ecosystems.

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