Additional Participants

Graduate Student

Karen Stamiezkin

Organizational Partners

Bowdoin College
Gulf of Maine Research Institute
University of Laval

Project Period

April 1, 2010-March 31, 2014

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number

0962074

Submission Date

7-6-2014

Abstract

Evolution has shaped the physiology, life history, and behavior of a species to the physical conditions and to the communities of predators and prey within its range. Within a community, the number of species is determined by both physical properties such as temperature and biological properties like the magnitude and timing of primary productivity, and ecological interactions such as predation. Despite well-known correlations between diversity and properties such as temperature, the mechanisms that drive these correlations are not well-described, especially in the oceans. The investigators will conduct a model-based investigation of diversity patterns in marine ecosystems, focusing on calanoid copepods. Diversity changes on both sides of the Atlantic suggest three main hypotheses, relating copepod diversity to environmental stability, productivity, and size-based predation. To test these, the investigators will develop a novel model of copepod population dynamics. The model treats developmental stage and mass as continua, leading to a single partial differential equation for abundance as a function of stage and mass. This approach facilitates the use of algorithms from computational fluid mechanics to resolve numerical dispersion problems that characterize many copepod abundance models. This new modeling framework will be tested by building a model for the species Calanus finmarchicus and Pseudocalanus newmani to compare the results of the model with prior observations and models for two contrasting ecosystems, the Gulf of Maine and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The model formalizes trade-offs between temperature-dependent development, mass-dependent and temperature-dependent growth, and mass-dependent mortality. A series of 1-D simulations will be conducted, encompassing a range of environmental conditions. Each simulation will be initialized with many distinct "species," where a species is described by a set of parameters specifying key physiological and life history parameters. These will be coupled to a nutrient-phytoplankton-microzooplankton model and integrated for many years. This procedure will produce a community of copepods adapted to conditions in each simulated environment. By studying how the modeled copepod communities respond to changes in physical conditions, productivity, and predation, mechanisms accounting for copepod diversity patterns will be tested.

The project will lead to improved models for important copepod species that can be incorporated into ongoing and future ecosystem forecasts. The information on copepod biogeographic limits developed by this study could support estimates of copepod distributions under climate change. The model will be designed to work in a basin-scale model. By allowing adaption to physical and biological conditions, the emergent copepod communities should provide more realistic estimates of the impact of climate change. The project will support the professional development of one graduate student and one postdoctoral associate. It will also engage one undergraduate summer intern each year. Concepts related to this project will be communicated to the wider public on a blog at SeascapeModeling.org.

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