TOPics in COPepod ecology:

Understanding ecophysiological key factors that regulate copepod populations


  • TOPCOP (CTM2011-23480, Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia)
  • PI: Enric Saiz
  • Other participants: Miquel Alcaraz, Albert Calbet, Isabel Trepat, Stamatina Isari, Sara Zamora, Meritxell Antó, Kaiene Griffell
  • Duration: 2012-2014


This study aims to get new insight into scarcely studied key processes that play a significant role in shaping the population dynamics of copepod communities in marine systems. We think this is an issue of particular importance under the global change scenario we are facing. A better comprehension of the mechanisms and factors involved in driving copepod population dynamics is required to predict future changes in marine zooplankton communities and the corresponding modifications in the structuring and functioning of pelagic ecosystems.

We will focus our research on the two "edges" of the copepod development (the naupliar stage and the ageing of adult copepods), very likely the most sensitive phases and at the same time the less studied, aiming to get new knowledge on the performance of copepods at those stages in the life cycle. In addition, we will study the feeding and reproductive activity of marine copepods in relation to the expected changes in the nutritional (stoichiometric) composition of microplankton assemblages in the future, as well as their implication for determining prey selectivity patterns in copepods. The research will be conducted in the laboratory at the individual level under controlled conditions.



Main objectives

The major objectives of this proposal can be summarized as follows:

1. To increase our knowledge on the ecophysiology of copepod nauplii and their capability to cope with environmental variability and render successful recruitment of populations.

2. To study the process of ageing and senescence in adult copepods, in order to assess the changes in their feeding and reproductive performance and improve our capability to predict the fate of natural populations of copepods.

3. To study the effects of dietary stoichiometry limitation on copepod performance, and to assess the importance of supplementary feeding vs. selective feeding as strategies to determine selectivity patterns in copepods.