Life cycles of Calanoides acutus, Calanus simillimus and Rhincalanus gigas (Copepoda: Calanoida) within the Scotia Sea

The life cycles and distribution of three dominant copepods,Calanoides acutus, Calanus simillimus andRhincalanus gigas were studied from the “Discovery” collections in the Scotia Sea earlier this century.C. simillimus is a sub-Antarctic species which mates in the top 250 m mainly in spring. The rapid development of the summer generation may allow a second mating period and a smaller second generation to appear in late summer.C. simillimus remains in the surface layers for a longer period thanCalanoides acutus orR. gigas, and its depth distribution is bimodal throughout the winter.R. gigas is most abundant in sub-Antarctic waters to the north of the Polar Front. It mates within the top 750 m later in spring, and development seems less synchronised than that of the other two species, with egg laying and the growth season being more protracted. Stages CIII and CIV are reached by the first autumn and further development resumes very early the following spring. It is not clear whether the majority then spawn or whether a further year may be needed to complete the life cycle. The predominantly Antarctic species,C. acutus mates below 750 m in middle to late winter and the summer generation develops rapidly to either CIV or CV. Its lifespan seems typically 1 yr, but some of the CVs which fail to moult and spawn in winter survive into their second summer, and their subsequent fate is uncertain. The cold-water speciesCalanus propinquus is comparatively rare in the Scotia Sea and aspects of its distribution and life cycle are briefly described for comparison. Regional variations in the timing of these events were apparent forC. simillimus and possiblyCalanoides acutus, but were not seen inR. gigas. Their geographic and vertical separation, together with their asynchronous life cycles support the concept of habitat-partitioning of these dominant herbivores.


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Authors: Atkinson, Angus

1 February, 1991
Marine Biology / 109
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