Morphology and Ecology in Tintinnid Ciliates of the Marine Plankton: Correlates of Lorica Dimensions

John R. Dolan


Tintinnid ciliates, characterized by the possession of a lorica into which the ciliate cell can contract, are a common component of the marine microzooplankton. Lorica architecture and size range widely and classically distinguishes species. Here relationships between ecological parameters and lorica dimensions (lorica oral diameter (LOD), lorica length (LL) and lorica volume (LV) are examined using data from literature reports. The relationships between lorica dimensions and reproductive potential, using maximum reported growth rates of natural populations (n = 52 species) are assessed. Susceptibility to copepod predation and lorica dimensions are considered based on reports of clearance rates of Acartia species feeding on tintinnid ciliates (n = 7 species). Diet and lorica dimension is analyzed using data on mean maximum food size contained in field-caught cells (n = 20 species), and preferred food size based on prey size associated with maximal reported clearance rates (n = 15 species). Overall, LOD is closely related to most of the ecological parameters. Maximum growth rate is related to LOD with smaller LODs corresponding to higher growth rates, in contrast to LL and LV. Maximum prey size is positively related to both LOD and LL but more tightly with LOD. Preferred prey size is positively related to LOD and LV but more tightly related to LOD. Clearance rates of Acartia species feeding on tintinnids are significantly related only to LOD with small LODs corresponding to lower
copepod feeding rates. Relationships excluding data on species of Tintinnopsis, the species-rich genus which generally dominates coastal
communities, are also examined and show similar trends. In tintinnids, LOD, known to be a conservative and relatively reliable species
characteristic, appears related to a wide range of ecological characteristics.

Słowa kluczowe: Ciliophora, allometry, niche, morphospecies, biodiversity, zooplankton

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