Plasticity in dormancy behaviour of Calanoides acutus in Antarctic coastal waters
Copepods that enter dormancy, such as Calanoides acutus, are key primary consumers in Southern Ocean food webs where they convert a portion of the seasonal phytoplankton biomass into a longer-term energetic and physiological resource as wax ester (WE) reserves. We studied the seasonal abundance and lipid profiles of pre-adult and adult C. acutus in relation to phytoplankton dynamics on the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Initiation of dormancy occurred when WE unsaturation was relatively high, and chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentrations, predominantly attributable to diatoms, were reducing. Declines in WE unsaturation during the winter may act as a dormancy timing mechanism with increased Chl a concentrations likely to promote sedimentation that results in a teleconnection between the surface and deep water inducing ascent. A late summer diatom bloom was linked to early dormancy termination of females and a second spawning event. The frequency and duration of high biomass phytoplankton blooms may have consequences for the lifespan of the iteroparous C. acutus females (either 1 or 2 years) if limited by a total of two main spawning events. Late summer recruits, generated by a second spawning event, likely benefitted from lower predation and high phytoplankton food availability. The flexibility of copepods to modulate their life-cycle strategy in response to bottom-up and top-down conditions enables individuals to optimize their probability of reproductive success in the very variable environment prevalent in the Southern Ocean.
Authors: Biggs, Tristan E.G., Brussaard, Corina P.D., Evans, Claire, Venables, Hugh J., Pond, David W.