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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 665:47-61 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13674

Swimming performance of subarctic Calanus spp. facing downward currents

N. Weidberg1,4,*, C. DiBacco2, C. Pezzola1,5, E. Rebiffe1,3, S. L. Basedow1

1Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, 9019 Tromsø, Norway
2Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, B2Y 4A2 Nova Scotia, Canada
3National School for Environmental and Water Engineering, University of Strasbourg, 67070 Strasbourg, France
4Present address: Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, 29208 Columbia, South Carolina, USA
5Present address: Faculty of Sciences and Engineering, University of Groningen, 9701 Groningen, The Netherlands
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Calanoid copepods dominate mesozooplankton communities in temperate and Nordic seas. The ability of copepods to remain and feed in productive surface waters depends on their ability to overcome downward flows. In this study, we assessed the swimming performance of subarctic Calanus spp. and tested how the copepods can retain their vertical position in a representative range of downward currents (between 0 and 5.4 cm s-1) simulated in a downwelling flume. Mean vertical and horizontal copepod swimming velocities and accelerations, movement periodicity and trajectory complexity were obtained by tracking individual trajectories in the field of view of 2 cameras. Copepod swimming velocity increased with increasing downward flow and matched downward flows up to 2 cm s-1. Beyond 2 cm s-1, animals were still able to significantly reduce their sinking rates, but their motions changed. Trajectories became simpler, swimming velocities changed on shorter time scales and instantaneous acceleration increased. These results are consistent with predictions of balancing depth retention against encounter rates with food and predators. Frequency distributions of vertical swimming speeds were mostly unimodal, with entire experimental populations responding in the same way. Coordination of movements and the ability to resist moderate downwelling flows can result in the accumulation of copepods in large surface swarms as observed in the field.


KEY WORDS: Calanoid copepods · Swimming behaviour · Depth retention · Downwelling currents


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Cite this article as: Weidberg N, DiBacco C, Pezzola C, Rebiffe E, Basedow SL (2021) Swimming performance of subarctic Calanus spp. facing downward currents. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 665:47-61. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13674

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