Predation risk triggers copepod small-scale behavior in the Baltic Sea

Klas Ove Möller*, Michael St. John, Axel Temming, Rabea Diekmann, Janna Peters, Jens Floeter, Anne F. Sell, Jens-Peter Herrmann, Dominik Gloe, Jörn O. Schmidt, Hans H. Hinrichsen, Christian Möllmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Predators not only have direct impact on biomass but also indirect, non-consumptive effects on the behavior their prey organisms. A characteristic response of zooplankton in aquatic ecosystems is predator avoidance by diel vertical migration (DVM), a behavior which is well studied on the population level. A wide range of behavioral diversity and plasticity has been observed both between- as well as within-species and, hence, investigating predator–prey interactions at the individual level seems therefore essential for a better understanding of zooplankton dynamics. Here we applied an underwater imaging instrument, the video plankton recorder (VPR), which allows the non-invasive investigation of individual, diel adaptive behavior of zooplankton in response to predators in the natural oceanic environment, providing a finely resolved and continuous documentation of the organisms’ vertical distribution. Combing observations of copepod individuals observed with the VPR and hydroacoustic estimates of predatory fish biomass, we here show (i) a small-scale DVM of ovigerous Pseudocalanus acuspes females in response to its main predators, (ii) in-situ observations of a direct short-term reaction of the prey to the arrival of the predator and (iii) in-situ evidence of pronounced individual variation in this adaptive behavior with potentially strong effects on individual performance and ecosystem functioning.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfbaa044
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)702-713
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Diel vertical migration
  • Individual behavior
  • Predator avoidance
  • Video plankton recorder
  • Zooplankton


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