Feeding of Ctenocalanus citer in the eastern Weddell Sea: low in summer and spring, high in autumn and winter
Pelagic copepod populations under the pack ice of the Antarctic Weddell Sea were sampled with a 50 μm net between October 2 and December 7, 1986, to study their abundance and developmental stage composition before and at the onset of the vernal phytoplankton bloom. Subadult stages and adult females were incubated to estimate rates of development and egg production. Copepod densities in the upper 200 m were highest for the small-sized species Oithona similis, Oncaea curvata and Ctenocalanus citer. About 95% of the copedite stages belonged to these species, dominated by Oithona. The copepodids were outnumbered by the nauplii in all species, except in Oncaea. The stage distribution in the small-sized species was bimodal with peaks in N3 and C4. The larger species Calanus propinquus and Metridia gerlachei showed peaks in nauplii only. Eggs were relatively abundant in all small and large species. Animals smaller than 1 mm not only were more abundant than the larger ones, but also had a higher total potential respiration. Eggs were produced by incubated females in sea water virtually without food at 0°C. Eggs hatched, and Oithona nauplii developed at a rate of about 7 days per stage. Copepodite stages did not develop significantly. Reproduction in the most abundant species commonly occurred before the algal spring increase when food levels were very low. Maintenance of a stable stage distribution at the expense of a high juvenile mortality seemed to be characteristic for the overwintering strategy of Antarctic copepods.