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Direct sampling and in situ observation of a persistent copepod aggregation in the mesopelagic zone of the Santa Barbara Basin

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Observations from a one-person submersible (“Wasp”) in fall, 1982, revealed a persistent aggregation of non-migrating, Stage V copepodites of Calanus pacificus californicus Brodsky in a band 20±3 m thick at a depth of 450 m, about 100 m above the bottom of the Santa Barbara Basin, California. Copepod abundances, calculated from nearest-neighbor distances measured directly from the submersible, yielded maximum densities of 26×106 copepodites m-3. Quiescent behavior, low laminarinase activity, low protein content, high lipid content and evidence of low excretion rate all suggest that these copepodites were in a state of diapause. Diapausing C. pacificus californicus at other locations along the eastern Pacific coast were also captured in discrete depth plankton tows. Both the submersible observations and the net collections suggest that the dense aggregation of diapausing copepods we observed in the Santa Barbara Basin was a phenomenon associated with seasonal upwelling cycles, and that such aggregations occur during non-upwelling periods when food is scarce in surface waters. Numerous predators, especially the deep sea smelt Leuroglossus stilbius, were observed feeding upon the aggregated copepods; thus, in contrast to the conventional picture of surface-dominated food distribution, deep-water aggregations of C. pacificus californicus may support the mesopelagic community during periods of low food availability in surface waters.

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Communicated by N. D. Holland, La Jolla

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Alldredge, A.L., Robison, B.H., Fleminger, A. et al. Direct sampling and in situ observation of a persistent copepod aggregation in the mesopelagic zone of the Santa Barbara Basin. Marine Biology 80, 75–81 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00393130

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  • Copepod Abundance
  • Conventional Picture
  • Seasonal Upwelling
  • Mesopelagic Zone
  • Santa Barbara Basin