Filter-feeding ethology of benthic invertebrates (ascidians). IV. Pumping rate, filtration rate, filtration efficiency

Research paper by A. Fiala-Médioni

Indexed on: 01 Sep '78Published on: 01 Sep '78Published in: Marine Biology


A combination of a direct and an indirect method has been used for the first time in the study of filter-feeding in benthic invertebrates. Experiments over 12 h periods under constant temperature, pH, light and feeding conditions have been carried out with 3 species of ascidians: Ciona intestinalis (Linné, 1767); Phallusia mammillata (Cuvier, 1815) and Styela plicata (Lesueur, 1823). In C. intestinalis and P. mammillata, no pumping rhythm has been found; the water flow was constant for 12 h, except for some brief accidental interruptions. In S. plicata, the particular rhythm of spontaneous periodical contractions recorded during the experiment were related to gamete emission. The speed of water flow, which was fairly constant during recording, varied considerably during the 12 h period; these variations were generally related to modifications in the diameter of the cloacal siphon. The average speeds, in cm sec-1, lay between 5.7 and 9.5 for C. intestinalis, 5.2 and 19.4 for P. mammillata, and between 5.3 and 10.7 for S. plicata. Variations in the pumping-rate were small, oscillating around a mean value. In ml h-1 g-1 dry weight of organs these were 5,829 to 5,982 (mean=5,906) for C. intestinalis, 6,142 to 6,592 (mean=6,312) for P. mammillata, 1,0508 to 1,1505 (mean=1,0708) for S. plicata. Filtration was continuous without any particular rhythm; filtration rates in ml h-1 g-1 dry weight of organs varied between 4,244 and 4,418 (mean=4,331) for C. intestinalis, 4,620 and 4,960 (mean=4,779) for P. mammillata, 8,482 and 9,078 (mean=8,760) for S. plicata. The curves representing pumping and filtration were clearly parallel, indicating that filtration efficiency did not vary greatly during the course of an experiment; the rates obtained were 65 to 87% (mean=74%) for C. intestinalis, 66 to 88% (mean 76%) for P. mammillata, and 73 to 90% (mean=80%) for S. plicata. The slightly higher mean value in S. plicata is probably related to the higher complexity of the branchial apparatus of this species.