A review of the adaptive significance and ecosystem consequences of zooplankton diel vertical migrations
- Cite this article as:
- Hays, G.C. Hydrobiologia (2003) 503: 163. doi:10.1023/B:HYDR.0000008476.23617.b0
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Diel vertical migration (DVM) by zooplankton is a universal feature in all the World's oceans, as well as being common in freshwater environments. The normal pattern involves movement from shallow depths at night to greater depths during the day. For many herbivorous and omnivorous mesozooplankton that feed predominantly near the surface on phytoplankton and microzooplankton, minimising the risk of predation from fish seems to be the ultimate factor behind DVM. These migrants appear to use deep water as a dark daytime refuge where their probability of being detected and eaten is lower than if they remained near the surface. Associated with these vertical movements of mesozooplankton, predators at higher trophic levels, including invertebrates, fish, marine mammals, birds and reptiles, may modify their behaviour to optimise the exploitation of their vertically migrating prey. Recent advances in biotelemetry promise to allow the interaction between migrating zooplankton and diving air-breathing vertebrates to be explored in far more detail than hitherto.