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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39594. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039594. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

Light primes the escape response of the calanoid copepod, Calanus finmarchicus.

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Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, United States of America.


The timing and magnitude of an escape reaction is often the determining factor governing a copepod's success at avoiding predation. Copepods initiate rapid and directed escapes in response to fluid signals created by predators; however little is known about how copepods modulate their behavior in response to additional sensory input. This study investigates the effect of light level on the escape behavior of Calanus finmarchicus. A siphon flow was used to generate a consistent fluid signal and the behavioral threshold and magnitude of the escape response was quantified in the dark and in the light. The results show that C. finmarchicus initiated their escape reaction further from the siphon and traveled with greater speed in the light than in the dark. However, no difference was found in the escape distance. These results suggest that copepods use information derived from multiple sensory inputs to modulate the sensitivity and strength of the escape in response to an increase risk of predation. Population and IBM models that predict optimal vertical distributions of copepods in response to visual predators need to consider changes in the copepod's behavioral thresholds when predicting predation risk within the water column.

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