Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Bulletin of Marine Science








Dormancy is an important life-history strategy which allows copepods to increase their fitness by delaying growth and reproduction until harsh environmental conditions have ameliorated. For marine species, the primary strategies identified to date include the production of dormant eggs by shallow-water species, and copepodite overwintering in deep-water species. Herein, we describe a third strategy in which fertilized adult females enter a “reproductive-resting” stage during the late fall that allows them to overwinter and provide a first source of spring naupliar recruitment. This strategy has been observed in the estuarine copepod Coullana canadensis, but may also occur in other species. Laboratory studies indicate that daylength and temperature are the environmental cues that induce the developing female copepodite to switch between active reproduction and reproductive-resting stage. In Maine populations, daylengths equal to 14 h induce >90% of the females to reduce development rate and accumulate lipid before maturation and mating. The resulting females, however, do not develop ova regardless of food level. A similar reproductive-resting stage is triggered at daylengths/or dramatically increased temperature. Cross breeding experiments indicate that the daylength triggered switch to reproductive-resting is under tight genetic control. Daylength likely serves as a critical cue for all populations in differentiating between the onset of harsh (i.e., winter) and favorable (i.e., spring) environmental conditions. At these times water temperatures are similar, but daylengths are different. Population differences in the daylength necessary to trigger the reproductive-resting strategy likely reflect latitudinal variation in the period over which environmental conditions are conducive to population growth.

Original Publication Citation

Lonsdale, D. J., Weissman, P., & Dobbs, F. C. (1993). A Reproductive-Resting Stage in an Harpacticoid Copepod, and the Significance of Genetically Based Differences Among Populations. Bulletin of Marine Science, 53(1), 180-193.