Life-cycle strategies and seasonal migrations of oceanic copepods in the Irminger Sea

Research paper by Astthor Gislason

Indexed on: 01 Aug '03Published on: 01 Aug '03Published in: Hydrobiologia


Abundance and seasonal vertical distribution of dominant zooplankters in the Irminger Sea was studied from data collected during four cruises between November 1996 and June 1997. In addition, egg production of Calanus finmarchicus was measured during winter, spring and summer 1996–2001. Five taxa constituted >95% of the copepod biomass, C. finmarchicus, Pareuchaeta norvegica, C. hyperboreus, Oithona spp. and Oncaea spp. A seasonal migration pattern was evident for C. finmarchicus, P. norvegica and Oithona spp.: from December to February, they inhabited the deeper layers, whereas, from April to June, they were most abundant in the upper layers. Oncaea spp. also stayed deep during winter and only a very limited part of the population rose to the surface during summer. C. hyperboreus remained deep from December to April, but had virtually disappeared in June. Reproduction of C. finmarchicus took place in May in the surface layers and was linked to the phytoplankton spring bloom. In contrast, reproduction of P. norvegica occurred at depth in February and was uncoupled with the spring bloom. C. hyperboreus did not reproduce in the Irminger Sea. Data on Oithona spp. and Oncaea spp. indicated that the former reproduced between April and June in the upper layers, whereas the latter reproduced year-round at depth. Thus, data on vertical distribution and seasonal stage composition suggested that the dominant copepods are separated, at least partly, at spatial and temporal scales with regard to overwintering and development.