MEPS 257:159-165 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps257159

Ecdysteroids in the oceanic copepod Calanus pacificus: variation during molt cycle and change associated with diapause

Catherine Lynn Johnson1,2,*

1Integrative Oceanography Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California 92093-0218, USA
2Present address: Department of Engineering Mathematics, Dalhousie University, PO Box 1000, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 2X4, Canada

ABSTRACT: Development through the molt cycle in arthropods is characterized both by changes in exoskeleton morphology and by cyclical changes in ecdysteroids, i.e. molting hormones. This study describes for Calanus pacificus ecdysteroid variation during the molt cycle in the fifth copepodid (CV) stage and compares ecdysteroid content of diapausing and active field-collected CVs. In C. pacificus CVs, the pattern of ecdysteroid variation relative to the molt cycle phase is similar to that found in decapod crustacean larvae. Ecdysteroid levels are lowest in the postmolt, the first phase after molting, and then increase to a peak during early premolt. Ecdysteroid levels measured in field-collected diapausing C. pacificus CVs were lower than those in active CVs, as expected based on the predominance of the postmolt phase among diapausing CVs. Ecdysteroid analysis provides a faster, less labor-intensive alternative to jaw-phase analysis for identifying the molt phase of field-collected copepodids, and can provide valuable insights into their life-history status. Measurement of copepod hormonal status in situ may provide a direct means of determining the proximate cues for diapause induction and termination in oceanic copepods.

KEY WORDS: Calanus pacificus · California Current · Copepod · Diapause · Dormancy · Ecdysteroids · Molting hormone · Zooplankton

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