Effects of food conditions on the development of the population of Temora stylifera: A modeling approach

M.G. Mazzocchi, G. Buffoni, Y. Carotenuto, S. Pasquali, M. Ribera d'Alcalà

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We integrated field and laboratory data with modeling to determine the extent to which the temporal patterns in population abundance of a copepod species as observed at sea may be explained by differences in production and mortality rates due to diet. A Lagrangian individual-based model utilizing birth and mortality rates whose values and variance were derived from the effects of dietary composition was implemented to simulate the growth of the multi-staged population of Temora stylifera. The four diets considered were represented by unialgal cultures of the dinoflagellate Prorocentrum minimum or the diatom Thalassiosira rotula, a mixture of the two species, and natural particle assemblages < 50 μm. The aim of this work was to set up an exemplary study on a debated issue, i.e., whether the insidious effect of a diatom diet demonstrated in laboratory experiments plays a role in the time course of copepod populations in situ. Our numerical simulations showed that differences in life history parameters, as mainly dependent on diet, caused remarkably different population growth rates. However, our model reproduced the pattern of an average seasonal cycle of T. stylifera in Mediterranean coastal waters only when it utilized time-dependent field data, which evidently integrate all conditions the animals experience at sea. Proper tuning of the mortality term of developmental stages was crucial to reproduce the pattern of the time course of T. stylifera abundance in situ, which confirms that this term plays a major role in shaping the copepod population dynamics. The model also showed that, while dietary composition affects the population growth, it is far from being the only determinant of the cycle of abundance of T. stylifera at sea. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71 - 84
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Marine Systems
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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