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Free Content Future Studies of Zooplankton Behavior: Questions and Technological Developments

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Important questions about zooplankton behavior include the evolutionary causes of vertical migration, the influence of behavior in generating and maintaining patchiness, and the effect of various behaviors on energy budgets. Zooplankton feeding rates and the potential for selectivity among prey types also remain controversial. In many respects we have reached the limits of what can be inferred about these topics from traditional techniques such as before-and-after grazing experiments in the laboratory and sampling with nets at sea. A variety of recently developed or proposed techniques could be used to obtain more direct information on zooplankton behavior. Three-dimensional video systems which quantitatively track individual zooplankters over time have been developed for use in laboratories, mesocosms and in situ. Recently-developed mesocosms facilitate manipulation of environmental variables under conditions which allow large-scale behavioral responses such as vertical and horizontal migration. Increased availability of submersibles and ROVs, combined with advances in video technology such as image intensifiers, low-light level cameras and range-gated lasers, should make it possible to collect quantitative behavioral data on undisturbed zooplankters in situ. Various optical devices could provide data on the in situ availability of phytoplankton, dissolved chemical signals and turbulence at the microscales relevant to individual zooplankters. Application of neurophysiological techniques would allow determination of the chemical and mechanical signals which can be detected and the threshold levels required. Lastly, continuing improvements in oxygen and pH sensors might be combined with video observations to compile realistic time budgets of behavior in large volumes of water while simultaneously measuring metabolic rate over time.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1988-11-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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