• AO;
  • community structure;
  • copepod;
  • decadal change;
  • Odate collection;
  • PDO;
  • phenology;
  • regime shift;
  • western subarctic North Pacific;
  • zooplankton


Decadal- to multi-decadal variations have been reported in many regional ecosystems in the North Pacific, resulting in an increasing demand to elucidate the link between long-term climatic forcing and marine ecosystems. We detected phenological and quantitative changes in the copepod community in response to the decadal climatic variation in the western subarctic North Pacific by analyzing the extensive zooplankton collection taken since the 1950s, the Odate Collection. Copepod species were classified into five seasonal groups depending on the timing of the annual peak in abundance. The abundance of the spring community gradually increased for the period 1960–2002. The spring–summer community also showed an increasing trend in May, but a decadal oscillation pattern of quasi-30-year cycles in July. Phenological changes coincided with the climate regime shift in the mid-1970s, indicated by the Pacific decadal oscillation index (PDO). After the regime shift, the timing of the peak abundance was delayed one month, from March–April to April–May, in the spring community, whereas it peaked earlier, from June–July to May–June, in the spring–summer community, resulting in an overlap of the high productivity period for the two communities in May. Wintertime cooling, followed by rapid summertime warming, was considered to be responsible for delayed initiation and early termination of the productive season after the mid-1970s. Another phenological shift, quite different from the previous decade, was observed in the mid-1990s, when warm winters followed by cool summers lengthened the productive season. The results suggest that climatic forcing with different decadal cycles may operate independently during winter–spring and spring–summer to create seasonal and interannual variations in hydrographic conditions; thus, combinations of these seasonal processes may determine the annual biological productivity.