Coltrane (Copepod Life-history Traits and Adaptation to Novel Environments)

Copepod life history and lipid strategy in a changing Arctic — A new trait-based approach to data synthesis, modeling, and end-to-end integration

US National Science Foundation, 2014–17

Lead investigator: Neil Banas; co-investigators: Julie Keister, Kristin Laidre, Jinlun Zhang (Univ of Washington), Carin Ashjian (Woods Hole), Robert Campbell (Univ of Rhode Island); collaborators: Torkel Nielsen, Thomas Kiørboe (Technical Univ of Denmark), Lisa Eisner (NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center), Øystein Varpe, Janne Søreide (UNIS, Longyearbyen), Malene Simon (Greenland Climate Research Centre, Nuuk), Ekaterina Popova (Natl Oceanographic Centre, Southampton)

Small and large high-latitude copepods. Source: Carin Ashjian, WHOI
Small and large high-latitude copepods. Source: Carin Ashjian, WHOI

This project springs from the hypothesis that the impact of future climate change on high-latitude planktivores, such as seabirds, fish, and bowhead whales, will come as much through changes in their prey quality (individual size and lipid content) as through changes in their prey biomass—with decreases in quality often accompanying and outweighing increases in biomass. To explore this hypothesis, we have started building and testing a new kind of trait-based zooplankton model, which combines ideas from the “optimal annual routine” tradition of life-history modeling in animal ecology with the more recent “emergent communities” tradition in marine plankton modeling.

arctic map
Testbeds completed and in progress

Model refinement is coming through a number of coordinated regional case studies, starting with i) Disko Bay, West Greenland, focusing on competition among three related Calanus spp., ii) the Eastern Bering Sea, focusing on tradeoffs between large and small copepods; and iii) Newport, Oregon, focusing on the dynamics of subarctic copepods in warm environments, as context for modeling a future, warmer Arctic.

A first paper documenting the model and testing it against 1) broad biogeographic patterns, 2) time variation in the Bering Sea, and 3) trait relationships in Disko Bay has been submitted to Front. Mar. Res., and you can download the submitted ms here.