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Bad food?
How mesozooplankton reacts to blue-green algae blooms

Mesozooplankton, mostly millimeter-sized mini crustaceans, play a key role in marine food webs. Their feeding behaviour has a major influence on how well energy is passed on to higher trophic levels. (Photo: IOW / A. Jetter)

A group of marine researchers around the IOW biologist Natalie Loick-Wilde has succeeded in deciphering the mysterious feeding behaviour of mesozooplankton in the presence of cyanobacterial blooms by analysing stable nitrogen isotopes in amino acids. They found that contradictory observations, according to which both the dominance of herbivorous and carnivorous diets occurred, can be explained by the aging process of a blue-green algal bloom. Apparently, the stage of a bloom determines whether “meat” or “vegetables” are preferred. In view of an assumed future worldwide increase in such blooms, their findings open up new perspectives on potential developments within a key group of the marine food web.

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