Diel vertical migration and feeding of copepods at an oceanic site near South Georgia
Twelve Longhurst Hardy Plankton Recorder (LHPR) profiles were taken over a 16 h period in January 1990, in order to study feeding of four copepod species at an Antarctic oceanic site near South Georgia. Vertical distributions of their life stages, as well as those of dominant competitors and predators, are described in relation to the feeding cycles of Calanoides acutus CV, Calanus simillimus CV, Calanus propinquus CV and Rhincalanus gigas CIII, CV and CVI♀. Comparisons with vertical ring-net catches, which were used for concomitant gutevacuation experiments, demonstrated the suitability of the LHPR for these fine-scale studies. Planktonic predators, with the exception of the diel migrant Themisto gaudichaudii, resided deeper than the herbivores. During the day and around midnight, when feeding rates were low, species and stages reached their maximum vertical separation. At these times, new generation copepodites of the four species lived progressively deeper and the overwintered generation (i.e., R. gigas Stages CIV, CV, CVI) were progressively shallower. During the afternoon or evening (depending on species), all stages older than CII, as well as Euphausia frigida and T. gaudichaudii, migrated upwards, to amass in the surface mixed layer. Feeding was restricted to darkness, although R. gigas commenced several hours before dusk. In detail their migration and feeding differed widely, with combinations of unimodal and apparent bimodal cycles. As a whole, the results suggest that (1) feeding could occur during sinking as well as during upward migrations, (2) upward migrations were not always associated with feeding increases, and (3) individuals appeared to descend after filling their guts.
Authors: Atkinson, A., Ward, P., Williams, R., Poulet, S. A.