, Volume 177, Issue 3, pp 849–860 | Cite as

Climate change affects low trophic level marine consumers: warming decreases copepod size and abundance

  • Jessica Garzke
  • Stefanie M. H. Ismar
  • Ulrich Sommer
Global change ecology - Original research


Concern about climate change has re-ignited interest in universal ecological responses to temperature variations: (1) biogeographical shifts, (2) phenology changes, and (3) size shifts. In this study we used copepods as model organisms to study size responses to temperature because of their central role in the pelagic food web and because of the ontogenetic length constancy between molts, which facilitates the definition of size of distinct developmental stages. In order to test the expected temperature-induced shifts towards smaller body size and lower abundances under warming conditions, a mesocosm experiment using plankton from the Baltic Sea at three temperature levels (ambient, ambient +4 °C, ambient −4 °C) was performed in summer 2010. Overall copepod and copepodit abundances, copepod size at all life stages, and adult copepod size in particular, showed significant temperature effects. As expected, zooplankton peak abundance was lower in warm than in ambient treatments. Copepod size-at-immature stage significantly increased in cold treatments, while adult size significantly decreased in warm treatments.


Acartia sp. Temperature–size rule Metabolic theory of ecology 

Supplementary material

442_2014_3130_MOESM1_ESM.docx (258 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 257 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Garzke
    • 1
  • Stefanie M. H. Ismar
    • 1
  • Ulrich Sommer
    • 1
  1. 1.Deparment of Experimental Ecology-Food WebsGeomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research KielKielGermany

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