Feeding rate of the oyster Crassostrea gigas in a natural planktonic community of the Mediterranean Thau Lagoon

Abstract : The Mediterranean Thau Lagoon is an important European oyster farming area. Oyster growth levels are among the highest in France, although chlorophyll a concentration is low. Previous studies have demonstrated that picophytoplankton, nano-microphytoplankton, dinoflagellates and loricate ciliates such as tintinnids are abundant in the Thau Lagoon. Moreover, heterotrophic flagellates and aloricate ciliates have not been investigated. The aim of this study was to assess picophytoplankton, protist and zooplankton abundances in water columns of the Thau Lagoon and to understand the particular structure of the Thau microbial food web, which may explain such a paradoxical oyster growth. In oligotrophic waters in the Thau Lagoon, the picoeukaryote Ostreococcus tauri is the dominant autotrophic picoplankter with a maximum Summer abundance. On 17 August 1998, the picophytoplankton and nanophytoplankton abundances were not as high as expected and we observed the development of large diatoms. At this time, available carbon resources arose from microphytoplankton (84.5 %) and picoplanktonic cells represented only 1.27 % in terms of carbon. The heterotrophic cells were few in abundance and constitued only < 14 % of carbon resources. In order to evaluate the importance of the "protozoan trophic link" for energy transfer from "microbial food web" to large benthic suspension feeders, the oyster Crassostrea gigas was offered a planktonic community as potential prey. In the grazing experiment, all > 5 μm flagellates, microphytoplankton, dinoflagellates, ciliates and large zooplankton were retained by the oyster gills. Only < 5 μm flagellates and picoeukaryotic cells, Ostreococcus tauri, were not very well retained (45 % and 2 %). The high clearance rates of Crassostrea gigas found in this experiment can be explained by a low suspended particulate matter (0.65 mg l-1). Oysters adapted their retention mechanism when they lived in oligotrophic waters. These results indicate that, under the given experimental conditions, picophytoplankton did not represent a valuable trophic resource for farmed oysters because (1) Crassostrea can not retain picoparticles and (2) the picoplankton represented a poor available carbon resource to be transferred via a weak heterotrophic protist community. In the oyster pends of the Thau Lagoon during this study, which followed a rainfall event, microphytoplanktonic primary producers, in particular diatoms, could be considered as the main food sources for bivalve suspension feeders.
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Dupuy Christine, André Vaquer, Thong Lam-Höai, Claude Rougier, Nabila Gaertner-Mazouni, et al.. Feeding rate of the oyster Crassostrea gigas in a natural planktonic community of the Mediterranean Thau Lagoon. Marine Ecology Progress Series, Inter Research, 2000, ⟨10.3354/meps205171⟩. ⟨hal-01248028⟩

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