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  1. Ojaveer, Henn (Ed.)
    Abstract Northern sand lance (Ammodytes dubius) and Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) represent the dominant lipid-rich forage fish species throughout the Northeast US shelf and are critical prey for numerous top predators. However, unlike Atlantic herring, there is little research on sand lance or information about drivers of their abundance. We use intra-annual measurements of sand lance diet, growth, and condition to explain annual variability in sand lance abundance on the Northeast US Shelf. Our observations indicate that northern sand lance feed, grow, and accumulate lipids in the late winter through summer, predominantly consuming the copepod Calanus finmarchicus. Sand lance then cease feeding, utilize lipids, and begin gonad development in the fall. We show that the abundance of C. finmarchicus influences sand lance parental condition and recruitment. Atlantic herring can mute this effect through intra-guild predation. Hydrography further impacts sand lance abundance as increases in warm slope water decrease overwinter survival of reproductive adults. The predicted changes to these drivers indicate that sand lance will no longer be able to fill the role of lipid-rich forage during times of low Atlantic herring abundance—changing the Northeast US shelf forage fish complex by the end of the century.
  2. Picophytoplankton are the most abundant primary producers in the ocean. Knowledge of their community dynamics is key to understanding their role in marine food webs and global biogeochemical cycles. To this end, we analyzed a 16-y time series of observations of a phytoplankton community at a nearshore site on the Northeast US Shelf. We used a size-structured population model to estimate in situ division rates for the picoeukaryote assemblage and compared the dynamics with those of the picocyanobacteriaSynechococcusat the same location. We found that the picoeukaryotes divide at roughly twice the rate of the more abundantSynechococcusand are subject to greater loss rates (likely from viral lysis and zooplankton grazing). We describe the dynamics of these groups across short and long timescales and conclude that, despite their taxonomic differences, their populations respond similarly to changes in the biotic and abiotic environment. Both groups appear to be temperature limited in the spring and light limited in the fall and to experience greater mortality during the day than at night. Compared withSynechococcus, the picoeukaryotes are subject to greater top-down control and contribute more to the region’s primary productivity than their standing stocks suggest.