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Zooplankton Prey

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Published on Mar 10, 2010

Zooxanthellae provide their coral hosts with a proportion of their required energy (Barnes & Hughes, 1999). As well as gaining energy from their symbiotic zooxanthellae, many corals feed at night by consuming zooplankton prey (Barnes 1987, Sebens et al. 1996, Ferrier-Pages et al. 2003). By extending their tentacles equipped with stinging nematocyst cells, corals are able to capture the zooplankton in the water column. The trapped prey is then transported to the centre of the polyps' oral disk and ingested through the gastrovascular cavity. In addition to capturing zooplankton, many corals also collect fine particles in mucus film or strands covering their surface. The mucus and trapped particles are then transported to the mouth by the cilia at the coral tissue surface (Barnes & Hughes, 1999). In this video, corals are using their nematocyst-laden tentacles to capture food particles from the water column, drawing them towards the mouth for ingestion.

Credits
Cinematography: Neilan Kuntz
Edited by: Neilan Kuntz
Written by: Neilan Kuntz
Location: Bocas del Toro, Panama (2003)

Barnes, R. (1987) Invertebrate Zoology. 5th Edition. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. pp. 149-163.

Barnes, R., R. Hughes (1999). An Introduction to Marine Ecology. 3rd Edition. Malden, MA: Blackwell Science, Inc. pp. 117-141.

Ferrier-Pagés, J. Witting, E. Tambutté, K.P. Sebens (2003) Effect of natural zooplankton feeding on the tissue and skeletal growth of the scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata. Coral Reefs 22(3): 229-240.

Seben KP, K.S. Vandersall, L.A. Savina, K.R. Graham (1996) Zooplankton capture by two scleractinian corals, Madracis mirabilis and Montastrea cavernosa, in a field closure. Marine Biology 127(2): 303-317

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