Letter | Published:

Vertical Movements of Zooplankton during a Solar Eclipse


THE solar eclipse of March 7, 1970, provided an opportunity to examine the reactions of zooplankton. to rapid changes in light intensities. Diurnal changes in the vertical distribution of zooplankton are recognized behavioural phenomena1,2. Light is considered to be the principal stimulus to vertical movement in planktonic crustaceans3,4. The basic pattern of diurnal distribution is a rise to the surface in late afternoon in response to decreasing light intensity, followed by a sinking in the absence of a light gradient at night; as light increases at dawn the zooplankton moves upward to the source of light change, and then downward away from the increasing intensity of daylight2. The general pattern of movement can vary, however, under the influence of various exogenous and endogenous conditions5. Observations of the responses of zooplankton to solar eclipses are limited to the studies of Petipa6, Skud7 and Backus, Clark and Wing8; changes in the vertical distributions of copepods, meroplankton and scattering layer and bioluminescent organisms were attributed to the exogenous light effects of the eclipse.

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  1. 1

    Russell, F. S., Biol. Rev., 2, No. 3, 213 (1927).

  2. 2

    Bainbridge, R., in The Physiology of Crustacea (edit. by Waterman, T. H.), 11, 431 (Academic Press, London, 1961).

  3. 3

    Cushing, D. H., Biol. Rev., 26, No. 2, 158 (1951).

  4. 4

    Raymont, J. E. G., Plankton and Productivity in the Oceans (Pergamon, Oxford, 1963).

  5. 5

    Banse, K., in Progress in Oceanography (edit. by Sears, M.), 2, 53 (Pergamon, Oxford, 1964).

  6. 6

    Petipa, T. S., Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSR, 104, 323 (1955).

  7. 7

    Skud, B. E., Fish. Bull., US Fish. Wild. Serv., 66, 259 (1968).

  8. 8

    Backus, R. H., Clark, R. C., and Wing, A. S., Nature, 205, 989 (1965).

  9. 9

    Harris, J. E., J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK, 43, No. 1, 153 (1963).

  10. 10

    Marshall, S. M., and Orr, A. P., The Biology of a Marine Copepod (Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 1955).

  11. 11

    Kamishilov, M. M., Trud. Murmanskoy Biolog. Stantsii, 4, 56 (1958). Translation Joint Publ. Res. Serv., No. JPRS 5471 (1960).

  12. 12

    Clarke, G. L., Biol. Bull., 65, No. 3, 402 (1934).

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