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ABSTRACT Strepiocephalus torvicornis and Branchipus schaefferi, males and females separately, were fed Escherichia coli at densities ranging from 1 x 106 to 5.5 x 107 ml-1. These shrimps are able to consume large quantities of E. coli. Branchipus schaefferi consumed 4 x 108 E. coli ind-1 hr' and S. torvicornis consumed 5 x 108 E. coli ind-1 hr' (0.082 mg hr-1 ind-1). Consumption leveled at an initial density of 4 × 107 E. coli ml-1 for B. schaefferi, while for S. torvicornis consumption leveled at 4.5 x 107 E. coli ind-' hr'. The functional response curves of these filter-feeding shrimps showed an unexpected pattern. For the males of both species, at 15 x 106 E. coli ml-1 there was a small decrease in consumption, while the curves of the females showed a similar decrease at 20 x 106 E. coli ml-'. This phenomenon is explained by assuming that the distance between the setae of the limbs, the movement rate of the thoracic appendages, or the inclination of the filtering apparatus is altered. During 5-h experiments, both species do not feed at a constant rate.


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