Feeding Ecology And Diet

Feeds mainly on phytoplankton; also sea ice algae, and cope-pods. Strategies for surviving the Antarctic winter include the ability, demonstrated in laboratory studies, to withstand months of starvation; they accomplish this without significant fat reserves by reducing their size, metabolizing some of their own mass in the process and producing a smaller exoskeleton at their next molt. Absent large schools of pelagic fish such as the herring of the North Atlantic, this species occupies this niche as the keystone species of the ecosystem; they are staple food of many of the larger organisms in the Southern Ocean, including fish, squid, marine mammals, and birds.

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