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Estimating population birth rates of zooplankton when rates of egg deposition and hatching are periodic

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  • Computer Science


I present a general method of computing finite birth and death rates of natural zooplankton populations from changes in the age distribution of eggs and changes in population size. The method is applicable to cases in which eggs hatch periodically owing to variable rates of oviposition. When morphological criteria are used to determine the age distribution of eggs at the beginning and end of a sampling interval, egg mortality can be incorporated in estimates of population birth rate. I raised laboratory populations of Asplanchna priodonta , a common planktonic rotifer, in semicontinuous culture to evaluate my method of computing finite birth rate. The Asplanchna population became synchronized to a daily addition of food but grew by the same amount each day once steady state was achieved. The steady-state rate of growth, which can be computed from the volume-specific dilution rate of the culture, was consistent with the finite birth rate predicted from the population's egg ratio and egg age distribution.

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