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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Swimming performance of subarctic Calanus spp. facing downward currents

N. Weidberg*, C. DiBacco, C. Pezzola, E. Rebiffe, S. L. Basedow

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Calanoid copepods dominate mesozooplankton communities in temperate and Nordic seas. The ability of copepods to remain and feed in surface productive waters depends on their ability to overcome downwards 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 5.7 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 two cameras. Copepod swimming velocity increased with increasing downward flow and matched downwards 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.