Copepods are millimeter size crustaceans which constitute the dominating group of marine mesozooplankton, and copepods are therefore of great importance in the marine food web. The paper presents for the first time how the surprisingly fast ambush attacks take place, and it explains how copepods can carry out attacks without pushing away their prey. It turns out that the hydrodynamic constraints and the power requirements of the fast attacks restrict ambush-feeding to a few, but very successful, larger muscular forms of zooplankton.
Prey capture in two different species of ambush-feeding copepods. Frame numbers are shown in (a) with consecutive frames 0.5 ms apart. In (b), (c), and (d) the positions of the copepod and the prey indicated by the arrows are shown before (white) and after (black) the attack jump. Notice how the prey is displaced insignificantly in the fast attack jump.
T. Kiørboe, A. Andersen, V. J. Langlois, H. H. Jakobsen, and T. Bohr, Mechanisms and feasibility of prey capture in ambush-feeding zooplankton, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106
, 12394-12399 (2009) (pdf