Water management practices in the Everglades have severely stressed the natural system, particularly by reducing the hydroperiods of much of the region. During the dry season of 1999, we investigated the influence of hydroperiod on the species composition and dormancy patterns of freshwater copepod communities in seasonal wetlands of Everglades National Park, Florida, U.S.A. The habitats were characterized by an annual dry season, from December through June. We sampled at two locations: the Long Pine Key area of the Rocky Glades region (short hydroperiod, ca. 4-5 months), and western Taylor Slough (intermediate hydroperiod, ca. 8-10 months). Both areas have experienced a reduction in natural hydroperiods and an increase in the frequency of dry-down. We collected weekly plankton samples from Rocky Glades solution holes to assess the potential species pool of copepods. To document the taxa capable of surviving dry-down by resting, we performed three immersion trials in which we rehydrated, in laboratory aquaria, sediment patches from solution holes and surface soils from all stations. Only a subset of the planktonic species collected emerged from the dried sediments. The cyclopoids Microcyclops rubellus and Paracyclops poppei were dominant. This is the first record of diapause for P. poppei. Species distributions from the different hydroperiod soil patches indicated that more diapausing species occurred at the sites that dried for shorter periods. Emerging individuals of M. rubellus and P. poppei were mainly ovigerous females, demonstrating a resting strategy seldom before recorded. The cyclopoid Diacyclops nearcticus had not been previously reported to diapause, but they emerged from the dried sediments in our trials. Our collections included six new records for Florida: Diacyclops nearcticus, Megacyclops latipes, Orthocyclops modestus, Elaphoidella marjoryae, Bryocamptus sp. and Bryocamptus cf. newyorkensis. Paracyclops poppei, Macrocyclops fuscus and Arctodiaptomus floridanus are new records for Everglades National Park. Clearly, diapause is an important strategy for the persistence of copepods in short-hydroperiod wetlands. The duration of the dry period appears to be inversely related to the number of species that emerge from diapause.
Additional publication details
Diapause in copepods (Crustacea) from ephemeral habitats with different hydroperiods in Everglades National Park (Florida, U.S.A.)