Understanding growth and development over ontogeny, and the effects of stressors on life history, requires bioenergetic analysis, for example using models based on dynamic energy budget theory. Such analyses require precise and accurate determination of the animal's biomass or biovolume over time. Automated imaging offers great advantages by allowing size measurements at a high temporal resolution and the possibility to follow individual animals, thus providing detailed growth trajectories as well as handles on inter-individual variation in growth. Here we report on a re-analysis of images from a life-cycle experiment with the coastal harpacticoid copepod Tigriopus brevicornis. Biovolume was estimated by approximating the organism's shape by a generalised ellipsoid. This analysis confirmed, rather unsurprisingly, that the moult from the last naupliar to the first copepodite stage is accompanied by a major change in shape. However, within the naupliar and copepodite stages, more gradual elongation was observed. These changes in shape imply that total body length is a poor proxy for body size throughout the developmental stages, and is therefore not suitable for bioenergetic analysis. Volumetric length (cubic root of estimated body volume) is far more appropriate. Interestingly, growth ceases for some 1.5 days around the moult to the first copepodite stage. Such a growth stop was not observed in earlier studies of several other copepod species. Furthermore, the growth rate of the copepodites exceeded that of the nauplii. These complexities in the life history of T. brevicornis pose challenges for bioenergetic analysis that will require determination of additional traits (e.g., feeding and respiration rates) to unravel.
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