28 July 2020
Assessment of microzooplankton and copepods grazing pressure on picoplankton is a key requirement for resolving the microbial food web efficiency. Although microzooplankton grazing on picoplankton has been extensively studied, the impact of microzooplankton on different groups of picoplankton, i.e., heterotrophic bacteria, Synechococcus and picoeukaryotes have rarely been compared. Furthermore, in the very few existing studies there is no consistent evidence of an enhancing or restraining effect of copepods on picoplankton. More studies are needed to improve our understanding of the influence of microzooplankton and copepod on picoplankton. Dilution incubations and copepod addition incubations were performed during a cruise to the southern Yellow Sea on May 16–29, 2007. The bulk grazing of microzooplankton and the calanoid copepod Calanus sinicus on phytoplankton, flagellates and picoplankton was estimated. Stations were divided into either eutrophic or oligotrophic according to the nutrient and biological parameters. Picoplankton comprised a large part of the diet of microzooplankton in the central oligotrophic area, while phytoplankton was the main food of microzooplankton in the coastal eutrophic area. In the central oligotrophic area, microzooplankton preferred grazing on Synechococcus. After copepod addition, ciliate abundance decreased while Synechococcus abundance increased (382%, 64% and 64% at three experimental stations, respectively), indicating strong grazing pressure of microzooplankton on Synechococcus. Our results suggest that Synechococcus might be an essential carbon source the planktonic food web in the oligotrophic waters of southern Yellow Sea.