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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Effects of hypoxia and acidification on Calanus pacificus: behavioral changes in response to stressful environments

Amy C. Wyeth*, Daniel Gr├╝nbaum, Julie E. Keister

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Copepods, which play major roles in marine food webs and biogeochemical cycling, frequently undergo diel vertical migration (DVM) swimming downwards during the day to avoid visual predation and upwards at night to feed. Natural water columns that are stratified with chemical stressors, such as hypoxia and acidification, at depth are increasing with climate change. Understanding behavioral responses of copepods to these stresses—in particular, whether copepods alter their natural migration—is important to anticipating impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. We conducted laboratory experiments using stratified water columns to measure the effects of bottom water hypoxia and pH on mortality, distribution, and swimming behaviors of the calanoid copepod, Calanus pacificus. When exposed to hypoxic (0.65 mg O2 l–1) bottom waters, the height of C. pacificus from the bottom increased 20% within hypoxic columns, swimming speed decreased 46% at the bottom of hypoxic columns and increased 12% above hypoxic waters. When exposed to low pH (7.48) bottom waters, swimming speeds decreased by 8 and 9% at the base of the tanks and above acidic waters, respectively. Additionally, we found a 118% increase in “moribund” (immobile on the bottom) copepods when exposed to hypoxic, but not to acidic, bottom waters. Some swimming statistics differed between copepods collected from sites with versus without historical hypoxia and acidity. Observed responses suggest potential mechanisms underlying in situ changes in copepod population distributions when exposed to chemical stressors at depth.