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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 423:167-184 (2011)  -  DOI:

Diel vertical migration behavior of Calanus finmarchicus and its influence on right and sei whale occurrence

Mark F. Baumgartner1,*, Nadine S. J. Lysiak1, Carrie Schuman2,3, Juanita Urban-Rich2, Frederick W. Wenzel4

1Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
2Environmental Earth and Ocean Sciences Department, University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, Massachusetts 02125, USA
3Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04575, USA
4National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA

ABSTRACT: Diel vertical migration (DVM) by herbivorous copepods likely has a profound effect on the behavior and ecology of copepod predators. We characterized the DVM behavior of late-stage Calanus finmarchicus in the southwestern Gulf of Maine during the spring seasons of 2005 to 2007, and investigated the influence of this behavior on the occurrence of zooplanktivorous baleen whales. On 5 occasions, we occupied an oceanographic station for 1 to 2 d and conducted (1) a half-hourly census of whales and (2) a half-hourly cast with an instrument package measuring temperature, salinity, chlorophyll fluorescence, and copepod abundance. We observed significant variability in DVM behavior both within and among years that was unrelated to stratification or chlorophyll concentration. Instead, DVM appeared to be influenced by the vertical distribution of phytoplankton, the presence of visual predators (sand lance Ammodytes spp.), copepod developmental stage, and the feeding history of individual copepods. Migrating copepods had oil sacs that were 44% larger than non-migrating copepods at the surface after accounting for developmental stage, which suggests that well-fed copepods are more likely to vertically migrate. While the occurrence of North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis was unrelated to variability in the migration behavior of C. finmarchicus, sei whales Balaenoptera borealis were significantly less abundant during times of strong DVM behavior. We speculate that right whales do not compete directly with sand lance and herring for C. finmarchicus, but by inducing DVM behavior, these fish are likely influencing the distribution and abundance of sei whales in the southwestern Gulf of Maine.

KEY WORDS: Calanus finmarchicus · Eubalaena glacialis · Balaenoptera borealis · Right whale · Sei whale · Video plankton recorder · Optical plankton counter · Gulf of Maine

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Cite this article as: Baumgartner MF, Lysiak NSJ, Schuman C, Urban-Rich J, Wenzel FW (2011) Diel vertical migration behavior of Calanus finmarchicus and its influence on right and sei whale occurrence. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 423:167-184.

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