Contrary to an expectation from the size-efficiency hypothesis, small herbivore zooplankton such as Ceriodaphnia often competitively predominate against large species such as Daphnia. However, little is known about critical feeding conditions favoring Ceriodaphnia over Daphnia. To elucidate these conditions, a series of growth experiments was performed with various types of foods in terms of phosphorus (P) contents and composition (algae and bacteria). An experiment with P-rich algae showed that the threshold food level, at which an individual's growth rate equals zero, was not significantly different between the two species. However, the food P:C ratio, at which the growth rate becomes zero, was lower for Daphnia than for Ceriodaphnia, suggesting that the latter species is rather disfavored by P-poor algae. Ceriodaphnia showed a higher growth rate than Daphnia only when a substantial amount of bacteria was supplied together with a low amount of P-poor algae as food. These results suggest that an abundance of bacteria relative to algae plays a crucial role in favoring Ceriodaphnia over Daphnia because these are an important food resource for the former species but not for the latter.
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