Temperature Impacts on Eurytemora carolleeae Size and Vital Rates in the Upper Chesapeake Bay in Winter
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The copepod Eurytemora carolleeae dominates vernal zooplankton biomass in the Chesapeake Bay estuarine turbidity maximum (ETM) region, where it is an important prey item for larval anadromous fish. Although there have been several zooplankton studies in the Chesapeake Bay ETM focused on spring, the importance of winter zooplankton populations for establishing these vernal conditions has not been investigated. We examined the abundance, distribution, and individual sizes of E. carolleeae in winter of 2007 and 2008 and we investigated the potential impact of varying winter conditions and rising winter temperatures on Eurytemora female carbon content, egg production rate, and generation time. We found higher abundances and larger individuals in the colder 2007 than in 2008 under similar freshwater flow conditions. Empirical estimates showed that overall zooplankton productivity was higher in 2007 than in 2008. Published recruitment indices for anadromous fish including white perch and striped bass were higher in 2007 than in 2008 in the study region. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that colder conditions resulted in larger individuals and therefore increased prey biomass available to larval fish. We further hypothesize that rising winter water temperatures will negatively impact trophic transfer of primary production to copepods and ultimately to fish.
KeywordsZooplankton Copepods Winter Climate Production
We thank the captain and crew of the RV Hugh R. Sharp for their support of the research cruises. We also thank E. Houde, L. Sanford, E. North, S-Y. Chao, Y. Kim, S. Suttles, E. Kiss, and all of the members of the BITMAXII project for their assistance with the project. We are especially grateful to D. Kennedy, and G. Jahn for assistance sorting plankton samples and the anonymous reviewers. Funding for this work was by the National Science Foundation (OCE-0453905). This is UMCES contribution no. 5150.
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