Abstract

Theoretical and empirical studies of plankton trophodynamics are usually based on some function of the relative density of predator-and-prey plankton. Such approaches based only on the relative density of predator and prey generally underestimate predator-prey contact rates because contact depends on both the relative density and the relative velocity of predator and prey. We estimate the components of predator-and-prey contact that are due to small-scale turbulence. The small-scale turbulence effect suggests reconsidering estimates of plankton food requirements, energy gain-and-loss from foraging and mechanisms associated with patch formation and dissipation.

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