PerspectiveEcology

Some Like It Cold

Science  08 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5928, pp. 733-734
DOI: 10.1126/science.1173951

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Summary

The northern shrimp, Pandalus borealis, makes up ∼70% of the 500,000 tons of cold-water shrimp harvested annually from the world's oceans. Commonly captured in shelf waters deeper than 100 meters, it supports major fisheries throughout the North Atlantic. On page 791 of this issue, Koeller et al. (1) report that the reproductive cycles of most northern shrimp stocks are finely tuned to match the timing of egg hatching with that of the local spring phytoplankton bloom (see the figure). This remarkable degree of local adaptation on a basin scale is achieved by females regulating the initiation date of their temperature-dependent egg incubation period so that eggs hatch on average within a week of the expected spring bloom. Thus, in typical years, eggs hatch at the time of maximum food availability. The potential downside of this reproductive strategy is its sensitivity to climate-associated changes in the ocean environment.