Mechanistic models are essential tools for interpreting and predicting the consequences of a changing environment and stressors such as pollution on the life histories of marine organisms. Here, we apply the simple and generic energy-budget model DEBkiss to the life history of the marine copepod Calanus finmarchicus. Model modifications were needed to accommodate the copepod life cycle, which deviates in several respects from most other animals (e.g., a sudden stop of growth after the final moult). We identified an acceleration of growth in the early copepodite stages, which could be linked to an increase in the specific feeding rate of the animals. Lipid storage, an essential element of C. finmarchicus biology, was successfully captured with the reproduction buffer of the DEBkiss model. The resulting model was fitted to a detailed data set from the literature and was able to explain growth, development and lipid storage from egg to adult, at different temperatures and food availabilities, within a single consistent framework. The parameterised model could subsequently be used to elucidate the energetic constraints on gonad maturation and reproduction. Interestingly, the overhead costs for egg production seem to be substantially higher than the default value applied in DEB-based studies. The current model provides a solid basis for applications in stress ecology, although our model analysis also identified several knowledge gaps. Specifically, further research is needed to cover the dynamics of diapause and gonad maturation, to explain the dependence of maximum body size on food and temperature, and to verify the predicted high costs for maturity maintenance.
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