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Differential dormancy of co-occurring copepods

  • Author(s): Ohman, MD;
  • Drits, AV;
  • Clarke, ME;
  • Plourde, S
  • et al.

Four species of planktonic calanold copepods that co-occur in the California Current System (Euecalanus californicus Johnson, Rhincalanus nasutus Giesbrecht, Calanus pucificus californicus Brodsky, and Metridia pacifica Brodsky) were investigated for evidence of seasonal dormancy in the San Diego Trough. Indices used to differentiate actively growing from dormant animals included developmental stage structure and vertical distribution; activity of aerobic metabolic enzymes (Citrate Synthase and the Electron Transfer System complex); investment in depot lipids (wax esters and triacylglycerols); in situ grazing activity from gut fluorescence; and egg production rates in simulated in situ conditions. None of the 4 species exhibited a canonical calanoid pattern of winter dormancy - i.e., synchronous developmental arrest as copepodid stage V, descent into deep waters, reduced metabolism, and lack of winter reproduction. Instead, Calanus pacificus californicus has a biphasic life history in this region, with an actively reproducing segment of the population in surface waters overlying a deep dormant segment in winter. Eucalanus californicus is dormant as both adult females and copepodid V's, although winter females respond relatively rapidly to elevated food and temperature conditions; they begin feeding and producing eggs within 2-3 days. Rhincalanus nasutus appears to enter dormancy as adult females, although the evidence is equivocal. Metridia pacifica shows no evidence of dormancy, with sustained active feeding, diel vertical migration behavior, and elevated activity of metabolic enzymes in December as well as in June. The four species also differ markedly in water content, classes of storage lipids, and specific activity of Citrate Synthase. These results suggest that copepod dormancy traits and structural composition reflect diverse adaptations to regional environmental conditions rather than a uniform, canonical series of traits that remain invariant among taxa and fixed across a species' range. Such interspecific and regional differences in life history traits need to be incorporated in models simulating Eastern Boundary Current pelagic ecosystem dynamics.

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