Marine Biology

, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 387–398 | Cite as

Diel vertical migration of the marine copepod Calanopia americana. I. Twilight DVM and its relationship to the diel light cycle

Research Article


Marine copepods commonly exhibit vertical movements in the water column over the diel cycle, termed diel vertical migration (DVM), with the most common pattern being an ascent in the water column to minimum depth around sunset and descent to maximum depth around sunrise. The present study characterized the DVM pattern of the pontellid copepod Calanopia americana Dahl in the Newport River estuary (North Carolina, USA, in July 2003). The estuary is shallow and well-mixed, and the study site (34°43′N; 76°40′W), 1.5 km inside the estuary entrance, is unusual in lying within a gyre where tidal currents are always in the seaward direction. Changes in C. americana vertical abundance were related to spectrally relevant changes in light throughout the diel cycle. Simultaneous measurements of light and zooplankton abundance near the surface (0.5 m depth) and near the bottom (0.5 m above bottom) were made over one 4-h period and two 3-day periods during different phases of the tide. These observations suggest that C. americana undertook twilight DVM in the Newport River estuary; an ascent to the surface occurred at sunset, followed by a descent to near the bottom around midnight, with a second ascent to the surface and then descent to near bottom at sunrise. DVM in C. americana was independent of the tidal cycle, with the initial ascent in the water column at sunset possibly associated with relative rates of irradiance change. Copepod vertical movements were consistent with a night-active endogenous rhythm, and appeared independent of the abundance of predatory chaetognaths, Sagitta spp. In DVM studies with migrators like C. americana that are broadly sensitive to visible wavelengths of light, measuring photosynthetically active radiation may be a reasonable alternative to measuring light in a spectrally relevant photometric unit.



We thank E. Sinkhorn for her technical assistance, and R. Barber, S. Johnsen, D. Rittschof, and D. Steinberg for comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. This material is based in part on research supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (ECOHAB grant NA17OP2725 to R. Forward and P. Tester), with additional funding provided by the Oak Foundation.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duke University Marine Laboratory, Biology Department and Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth SciencesDuke UniversityBeaufortUSA
  2. 2.Marine Science DivisionHarbor Branch Oceanographic InstitutionFt. PierceUSA

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