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Title: Fine-scale vertical distribution and diel migrations of Pyrosoma atlanticum in the northern California Current

Blooms of the colonial pelagic tunicate Pyrosoma atlanticum in 2014–2018 followed a marine heatwave in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Pyrosome blooms could alter pelagic food webs of the northern California Current (NCC) by accelerating the biological pump via active transport, fecal pellet production and mortality events. Although aggregations of P. atlanticum have the potential to shape marine trophic dynamics via carbon export, little is known about pyrosome vertical distribution patterns. In this study, we estimated the distribution of P. atlanticum in the NCC along transects off of Oregon (45°N and 124°W) and northern California (41°N and 124°W), USA during February and July 2018. Depth-stratified plankton tows provided volume-normalized pyrosome abundance and biovolume estimates that complemented fine-scale counts by a vertically deployed camera system. Pyrosomes were numerous offshore during February, especially off Oregon. Colonies were distributed non-uniformly in the water column with peak numbers associated with vertical gradients in environmental parameters, notably density and chl-a. Vertical distributions shifted over the 24-h period, indicative of diel vertical migration. Understanding the vertical distribution of these gelatinous grazers in the NCC gives insight to their behavior and ecological role in biologically productive temperate ecosystems as conditions become more favorable for recurring blooms.

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Journal of Plankton Research
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p. 288-302
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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