Interactive Effects of Hypoxia and Temperature on Coastal Pelagic Zooplankton and Fish
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Interactive Effects of Hypoxia and Temperature on Coastal Pelagic Zooplankton and Fish

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  • Journal Title:
    Frontiers in Marine Science
  • Description:
    Hypoxia, triggered in large part by eutrophication, exerts widespread and expanding stress on coastal ecosystems. Hypoxia is often specifically defined as water having dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations < 2 mg L−1. However, DO concentration alone is insufficient to categorize hypoxic stress or predict impacts of hypoxia on zooplankton and fish. Hypoxic stress depends on the oxygen supply relative to metabolic demand. Water temperature controls both oxygen solubility and the metabolic demand of aquatic ectotherms. Accordingly, to assess impacts of hypoxia requires consideration of effects of temperature on both oxygen availability and animal metabolism. Temperature differences across ecosystems or across seasons or years within an ecosystem can dramatically impact the severity of hypoxia even at similar DO concentrations. Living under sub-optimum DO can reduce temperature-dependent metabolic efficiencies, prey capture efficiency, growth and reproductive potential, thus impacting production and individual zooplankton and fish fitness. Avoidance of hypoxic bottom water can reduce or eliminate low-temperature thermal refuges for organisms and increase energy demands and respiration rates, and potentially reduce overall fitness if alternative habitats are sub-optimal. Moreover, differential habitat shifts among species can shift predator-prey abundance ratios or interactions and thus modify food webs. For example, more tolerant zooplankton prey may use hypoxic waters as a refuge from fish predation. In contrast, zooplankton avoidance of hypoxic bottom waters can result in prey aggregations at oxyclines sought out by fish predators. Hypoxic conditions that affect spatial ecology can drive taxonomic and size shifts in the zooplankton community, affecting foraging, consumption and growth of fish. Advances in understanding the ecological effects of low DO waters on pelagic zooplankton and fish and comparisons among ecosystems will require development of generic models that estimate the oxygen demand of organisms in relation to oxygen supply which depends on both DO and temperature. We provide preliminary analysis of a metric (Oxygen Stress Level) which integrates oxygen demand in relation to oxygen availability for a coastal copepod and compare the prediction of oxygen stress to actual copepod distributions in areas with hypoxic bottom waters.
  • Source:
    Front. Mar. Sci., 22 March 2019
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  • Rights Information:
    CC BY
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