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Trophic ecology and diet of Hydra vulgaris (Cnidaria; Hydrozoa)

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Hydra is a genus of common, sessile, solitary freshwater cnidarians, which are defined as carnivorous and efficient predators. The purpose of this study was to obtain information on the feeding habits and diet of Hydra vulgaris collected from its natural habitat in Nahuel Rucá Lake (Buenos Aires Province, Argentina). We found three categories of food items in the coelenteron: algae, fungi, and small invertebrates. Algae dominated the diet in terms of abundance and frequency of occurrence, but their volumetric contribution was almost negligible, as was their possible nutritional value. Invertebrate prey captured, using active predation, represented the major volumetric contribution, with four different taxa found. The detection of phytoplankton in the gastral cavities reveals the input of some organisms present in the surrounding waters in addition to the invertebrates. This information is novel, since studies on the natural diet of Hydra are very scarce.

Affiliations: 1: Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Funes 3250 2° piso, 7600 Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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