Habitat usage by the cryptic copepods Pseudocalanus moultoni and P. newmani on Georges Bank (Northwest Atlantic) Academic Article uri icon


  • The cryptic copepod species, Pseudocalanus moultoni and P. newmani, co-occur on Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine (Northwest Atlantic); even recent studies have reported results and conclusions based on examination of the combined species. Species-specific PCR (SS-PCR) based on mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) sequence divergence was used in this study to discriminate the species. Species-specific descriptions of habitat usage and predicted patterns of transport and retention on Georges Bank were made by mapping distributions and calculating abundances of each species from January to June, 1999 for four vertical strata (0-15 m, 15-40 m, 40-100 m, and 0-100 m) and five regions (Northern Flank, Bank Crest, Northeast Peak, Southern Flank, and Slope Water) identified on the basis of bathymetry and circulation. Patterns of distribution and abundance for the two species during January to June, 1999 were largely consistent with those described based on vertically integrating mapping and analysis for the same period in 1997 by McGillicuddy and Bucklin (2002). The region-specific and depth-stratified analyses allowed further discrimination in habitat usage by the species and confirmed the distinctive patterns for the two species. The observed differences between the species in abundances among the five regions and three depth strata over Georges Bank impact their transport trajectories. The concentration of P. moultoni in deep layers likely explains the higher rates of retention and lower rates of advective loss of this species from the Bank, compared to P. newmani, which may be more subject to wind-driven transport in the surface layer. Accurate identification and discrimination of even closely-related and cryptic species is needed to ensure full understanding and realistic predictions of changes in diversity of zooplankton and the functioning of pelagic ecosystems.

publication date

  • December 2015