Ecology and physiology of dormancy in a changing world: introduction to a virtual symposium
Tarrant, Ann M.
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Dormancy is a widespread strategy used by diverse animal groups to persist through adverse environmental conditions, spread reproductive risk, and optimize seasonal phenology. Dormancy is an overarching term that refers to a reduction in metabolism, growth, and development; and different types of dormancy have been defined. Quiescence is directly initiated and terminated in response to environmental conditions, while diapause requires a preparatory phase that usually anticipates the onset of unfavorable conditions and also requires some minimum dormancy period (refractory phase) prior to termination. Dormancy is a fundamental feature of seasonal food web dynamics. Zooplankton populations can rapidly boom as individuals emerge from dormancy to feed on ephemeral algal blooms. Such productivity is critical to sustaining higher predators and supporting fisheries, particularly the growth of larval fish. Dormancy traits undergo selective pressure as zooplankton optimize developmental timing to maximize food availability and minimize predation pressure. As oceans warm and environments change, the relationship between dormancy cues, such as temperature and photoperiod, can shift, with as yet unknown effects on the timing of dormancy and resulting ecosystem dynamics. Future ecosystem dynamics are difficult to predict in part because we do not fully understand the cues that regulate the initiation or termination of dormancy, or how dormancy traits may change over time through acclimation and adaptation.
Author Posting. © University of Chicago, 2019. This article is posted here by permission of University of Chicago for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Biological Bulletin 237(2), (2019): 73-75, doi: 10.1086/706563.