Life cycle and population dynamics of calanoid copepods
Calanoid copepods hold a key role in the marine food web, as they are a main food source for many commercially important fish. By grazing on phytoplankton, they thereby transfer energy from primary production to higher trophic levels. Every change in the copepod community will therefore influence the whole marine food web.
Characteristics in population dynamics, like reproduction time and -potential, growth or mortality are important parameters to describe the life cycle of calanoid copepods, estimate their secondary production and draw conclusions on the influence of the life cycle of copepods, on recruitment and stock dynamics of commercially used fish.
Potential consequences of changes in the physical environment for the life cycle and population dynamics of copepod species (Pseudocalanus elongatus, Acartia tonsa) from the Baltic Sea and North Sea are determined in experimental set-ups on board of research vessels and with lab reared cultures. This investigation will give information on whether copepods from the Baltic and North Sea are able to adapt to changes in their environment and maintain a population or whether these changes will cause a migration or extinction of some species.
Additional experiments on geographically separated populations from different ecosystems will show, whether an intra-specific variability in the potential to adapt to stressors is caused by phaenotypic plasticity or genetic variability.