Celebrating 10 years of Québec-Océan

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I'm writing from a conference hall in a hotel downtown Montréal.
There the oceanographer's community from the province of Québec (eastern Canada) is celebrating 10 years of achievements for the inter-institutionnal group in oceanographic research, Québec-Océan: numerous institutions from the academic and the government, 64 researchers, several federal research and excellence Chairs, above 200 students that graduated with a Masters or a PhD for the last 10 years. This group is supported by the provincial funding agency (FRQ-NT) and strengthened a long tradition of concerted research in all the disciplines of oceanography in Québec. When you are small, you need to school together to be successful, something well known in biological oceanography!

For my part, I'm proudly presenting the fruits of our research with Andy and Nick (Québec's neighbours down in Maine), for the glory of science and also in hope that it will help me land a position in one of these nice institution here!
My talk is about the adaptations of copepods thriving in highly seasonal environments, meaning environments alternating regularly between good and bad conditions for growth and reproduction. A key adaptation is dormancy, which consists of staying quiet for months at depth while the environment is bad. Pelagic copepods do just that with tremendous success. But to be successful, the dormancy strategy requires the ability (1) to accumulate reserves during good times and (2) to save this capital during bad times. Point (1) is well documented now and it's mainly about the large relative amount of lipids copepods can store, but point (2) is surprisingly less known. Hence I reviewed the metabolic requirements during dormancy published for 15 species. The punch of my talk is the prediction of dormancy duration for pelagic copepod as a function of their initial body mass and ambient temperature, and how that interacts with the growth(metabolism)-development tradeoff in copepods in order to shape life-cycle strategies, biogeography and biodiversity.

Isolines of the dormancy duration (days) were computed according to the average metabolism of dormant copepods we reviewed from the literature, the ambient temperature during dormancy and the body mass of copepods at initiation of dormancy. Dormancy is assumed to stop when a copepod reaches 30% of its body mass at onset of dormancy. Black triangles: observed position within the in situ temperature/mass space of the active individuals. Coloured circles: idem for dormant individuals. Colour scale reflects estimated dormancy duration based on species-specific metabolic values.


This figure presents the modeled mass-stage structure of copepods developing in constant temperature and non-limiting food conditions, based on parameters from our literature review. Isolines, triangles and circles same as preceding figure.

This work has a lot of implications and helps answer several critical questions:
  • Practical: in which environment can copepods use successfully a dormancy strategy to thrive in highly seasonal environments?
  • Theoretical: how come that some copepods not only spend months dormant relying on internal reserves but also produce a large number of eggs out of it?
  • Predictive: how will environmental changes influence the biogeography and biodiversity of pelagic copepods?

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This page contains a single entry by Frederic Maps published on November 8, 2012 2:11 PM.

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