On birth and death in the sea

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Conference Proceeding

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We present the first comparative study of the stage-specific patterns of mortality of Calanus and Pseudocalanus, two widely distributed genera that are representative of a relatively large-bodied, broadcast spawning calanoid copepod and a relatively small-bodied, egg-brooding calanoid. The study site is Georges Bank, a continental shelf locality in the Northwestern Atlantic with retentive circulation that renders it suitable for studies of population dynamics. Based on extensive mortality estimates from 30 cruises, we find that co-occurring Calanus finmarchicus and Pseudocalanus spp. have markedly different patterns of stage-specific mortality, the former bimodal and the latter relatively uniform with respect to developmental stage. Neither taxon exhibits a monotonic decline in mortality with developmental stage, nor are rates of mortality predictable in a useful manner by copepod body size or by ambient temperature. Young stages of the broadcast-spawning C. finmarchicus show conditional density-dependence of mortality rates, i.e. mortality rates are independent of population density when adult females are low in abundance but positively related to population density at high female abundances. This density-dependence, which is probably attributable to egg cannibalism, introduces a quadratic mortality term into population dynamic models. The egg-brooding Pseudocalanus spp., in contrast, show no evidence of density-dependent mortality. The two taxa illustrate a life history trade-off: the broadcast-spawning Calanus exhibits birth rates that are greatly elevated with respect to those of Pseudocalanus, but there is a compensatory cost in very low survivorship of the freely spawned eggs. Both the high fecundity, high mortality life history of Calanus and the low fecundity, low mortality life history of Pseudocalanus appear to have approximately equal fitness in this study site.

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