Live discrimination of Calanus glacialis and C. finmarchicus females: can we trust phenological differences?

Torkel Gissel Nielsen, Sanne Kjellerup, Irina Smolina, Galice Hoarau, Penelope Lindeque

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Two key players in the Arctic and subarctic marine ecosystem are the calanoid copepods, Calanus finmarchicus and C. glacialis. Although morphologically very similar, these sibling species have different life cycles and roles in the Arctic pelagic marine ecosystem. Considering that the distribution of C. glacialis corresponds to Arctic water masses and C. finmarchicus to Atlantic water masses, the species are frequently used as climate indicators. Consequently, correct identification of the two species is essential if we want to understand climate-impacted changes on Calanus-dominated marine ecosystems such as the Arctic. Here, we present a novel morphological character (redness) to distinguish live females of C. glacialis and C. finmarchicus and compare it to morphological (prosome length) and genetic identification. The characters are tested on 300 live females of C. glacialis and C. finmarchicus from Disko Bay, western Greenland. Our analysis confirms that length cannot be used as a stand-alone criterion for separation. The results based on the new morphological character were verified genetically using a single mitochondrial marker (16S) and nuclear loci (six microsatellites and 12 InDels). The pigmentation criterion was also used on individuals (n = 89) from Young Sound fjord, northeast Greenland to determine whether the technique was viable in different geographical locations. Genetic markers based on mitochondrial and nuclear loci were corroborative in their identification of individuals and revealed no hybrids. Molecular identification confirmed that live females of the two species from Greenlandic waters, both East and West, can easily be separated by the red pigmentation of the antenna and somites of C. glacialis in contrast to the pale opaque antenna and somites of C. finmarchicus, confirming that the pigmentation criterion is valid for separation of the two species
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1299-1306
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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