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How does Calanus helgolandicus maintain its population in a variable environment? Analysis of a 25-year time series from the English Channel
- Maud, Jacqueline L., Atkinson, Angus, Hirst, Andrew G., Lindeque, Penelope K., Widdicombe, Claire E., Harmer, Rachel A., McEvoy, Andrea J., Cummings, Denise G.
- Progress in oceanography 2015 v.137 pp. 513-523
- Calanus, Miozoa, algal blooms, autumn, egg production, eggs, females, food availability, growing season, mortality, phenology, population size, predation, reproductive performance, spring, summer, time series analysis, English Channel
- Calanus helgolandicus is a key copepod of the NE Atlantic and fringing shelves, with a distribution that is expanding northwards with oceanic warming. The Plymouth L4 site has warmed over the past 25-years, and experiences large variations in the timing and availability of food for C. helgolandicus. Here we examine the degree to which these changes translate into variation in reproductive output and subsequently C. helgolandicus population size. Egg production rates (eggs female−1 day−1) were maximal in the spring to early-summer period of diatom blooms and high ciliate abundance, rather than during the equally large autumn blooms of autotrophic dinoflagellates. Egg hatch success was lower in spring however, with a greater proportion of naupliar deformities then also. Both the timing and the mean summer abundance of C. helgolandicus (CI–CVI) reflected those of spring total reproductive output. However this relationship was driven by inter-annual variability in female abundance and not that of egg production per female, which ranged only two-fold. Winter abundance of C. helgolandicus at L4 was much more variable than abundance in other seasons, and reflected conditions from the previous growing season. However, these low winter abundances had no clear carry-over signal to the following season’s population size. Overall, the C. helgolandicus population appears to be surprisingly resilient at this dynamic, inshore site, showing no long-term phenology shift and only a four-fold variation in mean abundance between years. This dampening effect may reflect a series of mortality sources, associated with the timing of stratification in the early part of the season, likely affecting egg sinking and loss, plus intense, density-dependent mortality of early stages in mid-summer likely through predation.