Copepod hatching success in marine ecosystems with high diatom concentrations

Diatoms dominate spring bloom phytoplankton assemblages in temperate waters and coastal upwelling regions of the global ocean. Copepods usually dominate the zooplankton in these regions and are the prey of many larval fish species. Recent laboratory studies suggest that diatoms may have a deleterious effect on the success of copepod egg hatching(1-4). These findings challenge the classical view of marine food-web energy flow from diatoms to fish by means of copepods(5-7). Egg mortality is an important factor in copepod population dynamics(8), thus, if diatoms have a deleterious in situ effect, paradoxically, high diatom abundance could limit secondary production. Therefore, the current understanding of energy transfer from primary production to fisheries in some of the most productive and economically important marine ecosystems(9) may be seriously flawed(1,10). Here we present in situ estimates of copepod egg hatching success from twelve globally distributed areas, where diatoms dominate the phytoplankton assemblage. We did not observe a negative relationship between copepod egg hatching success and either diatom biomass or dominance in the microplankton in any of these regions. The classical model for diatom-dominated system remains valid.


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Authors: Irigoien, Xabier, Harris, Roger P., Verheye, Hans M., Joly, Pierre, Runge, Jeffrey, Starr, Michel, Pond, David, Campbell, Robert, Shreeve, Rachael, Ward, Peter, Smith, Amy N., Dam, Hans G., Peterson, William, Tirelli, Valentina, Koski, Marja, Smith, Tania, Harbour, Derek, Davidson, Russell

On this site: Peter Ward
1 January, 2002
Nature / 419
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