Three populations of the copepod Acartia tonsa, two from the Baltic Sea and one from the U.S. East Coast, were compared for resting egg production at conditions of saturating and limiting food availability. All three populations produced eggs that hatched within 72 h when incubated at 17°C (subitaneous eggs), but the two Baltic populations in addition produced eggs that hatched at a much slower rate, in the course of a month (delayed hatching eggs [DHE]). Such eggs were not produced by the U.S. population. The fraction of DHE increased when food was limiting. Females from a Baltic population that were incubated individually all produced subitaneous eggs, but about half the females consistently also produced DHE. Cold storage that mimicked boreal winter conditions synchronized the hatching of DHE after extended storage, indicating that spring hatching of DHE might seed the water column with nauplii as an adaptation to match the timing of the spring bloom in boreal marine ecosystems. Low food availability promotes the production of resting eggs in marine copepods.
Limnology and Oceanography, 2011, Vol 56, Issue 6, p. 2064-2070