Marine Biology

, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 399–410 | Cite as

Diel vertical migration of the marine copepod Calanopia americana. II. Proximate role of exogenous light cues and endogenous rhythms

Research Article


The marine copepod Calanopia americana Dahl undergoes twilight diel vertical migration (DVM) in the Newport River estuary, North Carolina, USA, in synchrony with the light:dark cycle. Copepods ascend to the surface at sunset, descend to the bottom around midnight, and make a second ascent and descent before sunrise. Behavioral assays with C. americana in the laboratory during fall 2002/2003 and summer 2004 investigated aspects of three hypotheses for the proximate role of light in DVM: (1) preferendum hypothesis (absolute irradiance), (2) rate of change hypothesis (relative rates of irradiance change), and (3) endogenous rhythm hypothesis. Results suggest that C. americana responds to exogenous light cues consistent with its DVM pattern; changes in absolute irradiance evoked swimming responses that would result in an ascent at sunset and descent at sunrise, while relative rates of irradiance decrease at sunset (−0.0046 s−1) evoked an ascent response, and relative rates of irradiance increase at sunrise (0.0042 s−1) evoked a descent response. Furthermore, C. americana expressed an endogenous rhythm in vertical migration that was positively correlated with field observations of twilight DVM. Collectively, these results indicate that both exogenous light cues and endogenous rhythms play a proximate role in twilight DVM of C. americana, providing redundancy in the causes of its vertical migration.


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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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