Eggs of the copepod Acartia tonsa Dana require hypoxic conditions to tolerate prolonged embryonic development arrest

Tue Sparholt Jørgensen, Per Meyer Jepsen, Haidi Cecilie Petersen, Dennis Steven Friis, Benni Winding Hansen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Copepods make up the largest zooplankton biomass in coastal areas and estuaries and are pivotal for the normal development of fish larva of countless species. During spring in neritic boreal waters, the copepod pelagic biomass increases rapidly from near absence during winter. In the calanoid species Acartia tonsa, a small fraction of eggs are dormant regardless of external conditions and this has been hypothesized to be crucial for sediment egg banks and for the rapid biomass increase during spring. Other eggs can enter a state of induced arrest called quiescence when external conditions are unfavourable. While temperature is known to be a pivotal factor in the transition from developing to resting eggs and back, the role of pH and free Oxygen in embryo development has not been systematically investigated.

Here, we show in a laboratory setting that hypoxic conditions are necessary for resting eggs to maintain a near-intact rate of survival after several months of induced resting. We further investigate the influence of pH that is realistic for natural sediments on the viability of resting eggs and document the effect that eggs have on the pH of the surrounding environment. We find that resting eggs acidify their immediate surroundings and are able to survive in a wide range of pH.

This is the first study to demonstrate the importance of hypoxia on the survival capabilities of A. tonsa resting eggs in a controlled laboratory setting, and the first to show that the large majority of quiescent eggs are able to tolerate prolonged resting. These findings have large implications for the understanding of the recruitment of copepods from sediment egg banks, which are considered the primary contributor of nauplii seeded to pelagic populations in nearshore habitats in late spring.
TidsskriftBMC Ecology
Udgave nummer1
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 2019

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