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It is notoriously difficult to estimate mortality rates for zooplankton populations in the open ocean. In a new paper, Kvile and colleagues demonstrate that mortality estimation can be improved using a statistical regression approach (SRA) that takes into account advection and spatiotemporal trends in recruitment. Using this method on Calanus finmarchicus survey data from the Norwegian Sea–Barents Sea, they find indications of increased mortality for the oldest copepodite stage pair (CIV–CV), possibly reflecting higher predation pressure on larger copepodites.
A recently paper published in PNAS, members of the CEES Marine Group explore potential climate effects on Calanus finmarchicus, a key zooplankton species in the North Atlantic. The paper shows how the combination of shallow mixed-layer-depth and increased wind apparently increases chlorophyll biomass in spring, and in turn C. finmarchicus biomass in summer. These findings strongly suggest bottom-up effects of food availability on zooplankton, and highlight the need to consider climate effects “beyond temperature” when projecting zooplankton dynamics under climate change.
Increased sea temperature due to climate change can influence the distribution, abundance and seasonal timing of zooplankton. Changing zooplankton dynamics might in turn impact the higher trophic levels, such as fish and seabirds, feeding on these animals. In a recent paper, we show that temperature variation in the Atlantic waters of the Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea might have stronger effects on the abundance of the younger than older development stages of Calanus finmarchicus, and that these stages might appear earlier in spring during warm years.