2018 Volume 13 Issue 2 Pages 75-82
Metagenetic diet analyses of the 18S V9 region were conducted in 40 adult female Calanus sinicus during winter in Tosa Bay (Japan). The majority of prey items were small crustaceans (of Copepoda and Cirripedia) and diatoms, taxa that are dominant in the environment and have been previously reported as important prey items of Calanus. The abundance of sequences attributable to Dinophyta and Chlorophyta was significantly lower in C. sinicus gut contents than in environmental plankton communities, suggesting that C. sinicus avoids prey from these groups. Hydrozoans were also observed, and aplanochytrids (Labyrinthulea) were detected for the first time as a major prey of C. sinicus. Additionally, high proportions of unclassified eukaryote material were observed, suggesting undetected predator–prey relationships in key copepod species in marine ecosystems. The dietary importance of aplanochytrids, heterotrophic protists that accumulate unsaturated fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid, has been overlooked in previous research. Calanus sinicus is a key copepod species in the subtropical coastal regions of the western North Pacific, and a major food source for the larvae of commercially important fish; therefore, further investigation into novel prey items such as aplanochytrids is recommended to understand the complex food web structures in marine ecosystems.