Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 3, pp 1099–1110 | Cite as

Oithona similis in a high latitude ecosystem: abundance, distribution and temperature limitation of fecundity rates in a sac spawning copepod

  • P. WardEmail author
  • A. G. Hirst
Research Article


In this study we report the abundance, fecundity and an index of the relative survival of Oithona similis (nauplii to copepodites) across a large latitudinal and temperature range within the Southern Ocean. The abundance of O. similis was strongly related to temperature and to depth-integrated (0–100 m) chlorophyll a, abundance increasing with increasing temperature (and therefore decreasing latitude) and Chl a. In situ egg production rates and fecundity per female were also significantly and positively related to temperature and Chl a. Egg hatch times rapidly lengthen as temperature decreases and in sac spawning species the next batch of eggs cannot be produced until the previous clutch hatch. Consequently, we predict that in O. similis, fecundity must decline rapidly at low temperatures, especially below 5°C. A model comparing maximum rates of fecundity with in situ data suggested production rates were strongly food limited across our study region. However, the relationship of in situ and maximum rates to temperature were similar, confirming the importance of temperature. Further, as time taken to develop from egg to adult also rapidly extends with declining temperature, it is increasingly unlikely that O. similis will be able to maintain its population against mortality. Our findings have broad implications for the cold temperature (and hence geographic) limits of O. similis, but also for the distribution of other sac spawning copepods and planktonic species generally.


Southern Ocean Fecundity Rate Secondary Production Copepodite Stage Maximum Fecundity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to thank the officers and crew of the RRS James Clark Ross and our colleagues who assisted with the sampling programmes. Beki Korb and Mick Whitehouse are thanked for the Chl a and temperature data respectively and Rachael Shreeve for drafting Fig. 1. This work forms part of the BAS Discovery 2010 Flexicon and CEMI projects.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.British Antarctic SurveyNatural Environment Research CouncilCambridgeUK

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