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  1. Eastern Boundary Systems support major fisheries whose early life stages depend on upwelling production. Upwelling can be highly variable at the regional scale, with substantial repercussions for new productivity and microbial loop activity. Studies that integrate the classic trophic web based on new production with the microbial loop are rare due to the range in body forms and sizes of the taxa. Underwater imaging can overcome this limitation, and with machine learning, enables fine resolution studies spanning large spatial scales. We used theIn-situIchthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS) to investigate the drivers of plankton community structure in the northern California Current, sampled along the Newport Hydrographic (NH) and Trinidad Head (TR) lines, in OR and CA, respectively. The non-invasive imaging of particles and plankton over 1644km in the winters and summers of 2018 and 2019 yielded 1.194 billion classified plankton images. Combining nutrient analysis, flow cytometry, and 16S rRNA gene sequencing of the microbial community with mesoplankton underwater imaging enabled us to study taxa from 0.2µm to 15cm, including prokaryotes, copepods, ichthyoplankton, and gelatinous forms. To assess community structure, >2000 single-taxon distribution profiles were analyzed using high resolution spatial correlations. Co-occurrences on the NH line were consistently significantly higher off-shelf while those at TR were highest on-shelf. Random Forests models identified the concentrations of microbial loop associated taxa such as protists,Oithonacopepods, and appendicularians as important drivers of co-occurrences at NH line, while at TR, cumulative upwelling and chlorophyllawere of the highest importance. Our results indicate that the microbial loop is driving plankton community structure in intermittent upwelling systems such as the NH line and supports temporal stability, and further, that taxa such as protists,Oithonacopepods, and appendicularians connect a diverse and functionally redundant microbial community to stable plankton community structure. Where upwelling is more continuous such as at TR, primary production may dominate patterns of community structure, obscuring the underlying role of the microbial loop. Future changes in upwelling strength are likely to disproportionately affect plankton community structure in continuous upwelling regions, while high microbial loop activity enhances community structure resilience.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 22, 2024
  2. Abstract Oceanic ctenophores are widespread predators on pelagic zooplankton. While data on coastal ctenophores often show strong top-down predatory impacts in their ecosystems, differing morphologies, prey capture mechanisms and behaviors of oceanic species preclude the use of coastal data to draw conclusion on oceanic species. We used high-resolution imaging methods both in situ and in the laboratory to quantify interactions of Ocyropsis spp. with natural copepod prey. We confirmed that Ocyropsis spp. uses muscular lobe contraction and a prehensile mouth to capture prey, which is unique amongst ctenophores. This feeding mechanism results in high overall capture success whether encountering single or multiple prey between the lobes (71 and 81% respectively). However, multiple prey require several attempts for successful capture whereas single prey are often captured on the first attempt. Digestion of adult copepods takes 44 min at 25 °C and does not vary with ctenophore size. At high natural densities, we estimate that Ocyropsis spp. consume up to 40% of the daily copepod standing stock. This suggests that, when numerous, Ocyropsis spp. can exert strong top-down control on oceanic copepod populations. At more common densities, these animals consume only a small proportion of the daily copepod standing stock. However, compared to data from pelagic fishes and oceanic medusae, Ocyropsis spp. appears to be the dominant copepod predator in this habitat. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. Many fishes employ distinct swimming modes for routine swimming and predator escape. These steady and escape swimming modes are characterized by dramatically differing body kinematics that lead to context-adaptive differences in swimming performance. Physonect siphonophores, such as Nanomia bijuga , are colonial cnidarians that produce multiple jets for propulsion using swimming subunits called nectophores. Physonect siphonophores employ distinct routine and steady escape behaviors but–in contrast to fishes–do so using a decentralized propulsion system that allows them to alter the timing of thrust production, producing thrust either synchronously (simultaneously) for escape swimming or asynchronously (in sequence) for routine swimming. The swimming performance of these two swimming modes has not been investigated in siphonophores. In this study, we compare the performances of asynchronous and synchronous swimming in N. bijuga over a range of colony lengths (i.e., numbers of nectophores) by combining experimentally derived swimming parameters with a mechanistic swimming model. We show that synchronous swimming produces higher mean swimming speeds and greater accelerations at the expense of higher costs of transport. High speeds and accelerations during synchronous swimming aid in escaping predators, whereas low energy consumption during asynchronous swimming may benefit N. bijuga during vertical migrations over hundreds of meters depth. Our results also suggest that when designing underwater vehicles with multiple propulsors, varying the timing of thrust production could provide distinct modes directed toward speed, efficiency, or acceleration. 
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  4. Abstract

    Microbial mortality impacts the structure of food webs, carbon flow, and the interactions that create dynamic patterns of abundance across gradients in space and time in diverse ecosystems. In the oceans, estimates of microbial mortality by viruses, protists, and small zooplankton do not account fully for observations of loss, suggesting the existence of underappreciated mortality sources. We examined how ubiquitous mucous mesh feeders (i.e. gelatinous zooplankton) could contribute to microbial mortality in the open ocean. We coupled capture of live animals by blue‐water diving to sequence‐based approaches to measure the enrichment and selectivity of feeding by two coexisting mucous grazer taxa (pteropods and salps) on numerically dominant marine prokaryotes. We show that mucous mesh grazers consume a variety of marine prokaryotes and select between coexisting lineages and similar cell sizes. We show thatProchlorococcusmay evade filtration more than other cells and that planktonic archaea are consumed by macrozooplanktonic grazers. Discovery of these feeding relationships identifies a new source of mortality for Earth's dominant marine microbes and alters our understanding of how top‐down processes shape microbial community and function.

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  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Pyrosomes are widely distributed pelagic tunicates that have the potential to reshape marine food webs when they bloom. However, their grazing preferences and interactions with the background microbial community are poorly understood. This is the first study of the marine microorganisms associated with pyrosomes undertaken to improve the understanding of pyrosome biology, the impact of pyrosome blooms on marine microbial systems, and microbial symbioses with marine animals. The diversity, relative abundance, and taxonomy of pyrosome-associated microorganisms were compared to seawater during a Pyrosoma atlanticum bloom in the Northern California Current System using high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, microscopy, and flow cytometry. We found that pyrosomes harbor a microbiome distinct from the surrounding seawater, which was dominated by a few novel taxa. In addition to the dominant taxa, numerous more rare pyrosome-specific microbial taxa were recovered. Multiple bioluminescent taxa were present in pyrosomes, which may be a source of the iconic pyrosome luminescence. We also discovered free-living marine microorganisms in association with pyrosomes, suggesting that pyrosome feeding impacts all microbial size classes but preferentially removes larger eukaryotic taxa. This study demonstrates that microbial symbionts and microbial prey are central to pyrosome biology. In addition to pyrosome impacts on higher trophic level marine food webs, the work suggests that pyrosomes also alter marine food webs at the microbial level through feeding and seeding of the marine microbial communities with their symbionts. Future efforts to predict pyrosome blooms, and account for their ecosystem impacts, should consider pyrosome interactions with marine microbial communities. 
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  6. Abstract

    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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  7. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Cnidarian jellyfish can be dominant players in the food webs of highly productive Eastern Boundary Currents (EBC). However, the trophic role of inconspicuous hydromedusae in EBCs has traditionally been overlooked. We collected mesozooplankton from five stations along two cross-shelf transects in the Northern California Current (NCC) during winter and summer of 2018–2019. We analyzed gut contents of 11 hydromedusan species and the prey community to (i) determine prey resource use by hydromedusae and (ii) determine temporal shifts in the trophic niche of hydromedusae, focusing on the two most collected species (Clytia gregaria and Eutonina indicans). Hydromedusae in the NCC fed mostly on copepods, appendicularians and invertebrate larvae. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling of hydromedusan diets showed seasonal shifts in prey resource driven by the abundant C. gregaria, which fed mostly on copepod eggs during winter and fed mostly on appendicularians and copepods during summer. Prey selectivity for copepod eggs increased during winter for C. gregaria and E. indicans. Intriguingly, theoretical ingestion rates show that both species acquire similar amounts of carbon during upwelling and nonupwelling conditions. Hydromedusae’s consistent presence and predation impact across seasons may lead to significant effects in carbon and energy transfer through the NCC food web. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Pulsatile jet propulsion is a common swimming mode used by a diverse array of aquatic taxa from chordates to cnidarians. This mode of locomotion has interested both biologists and engineers for over a century. A central issue to understanding the important features of jet-propelling animals is to determine how the animal interacts with the surrounding fluid. Much of our knowledge of aquatic jet propulsion has come from simple theoretical approximations of both propulsive and resistive forces. Although these models and basic kinematic measurements have contributed greatly, they alone cannot provide the detailed information needed for a comprehensive, mechanistic overview of how jet propulsion functions across multiple taxa, size scales and through development. However, more recently, novel experimental tools such as high-speed 2D and 3D particle image velocimetry have permitted detailed quantification of the fluid dynamics of aquatic jet propulsion. Here, we provide a comparative analysis of a variety of parameters such as efficiency, kinematics and jet parameters, and review how they can aid our understanding of the principles of aquatic jet propulsion. Research on disparate taxa allows comparison of the similarities and differences between them and contributes to a more robust understanding of aquatic jet propulsion. 
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  9. null (Ed.)
    It has been well documented that animals (and machines) swimming or flying near a solid boundary get a boost in performance. This ground effect is often modelled as an interaction between a mirrored pair of vortices represented by a true vortex and an opposite sign ‘virtual vortex’ on the other side of the wall. However, most animals do not swim near solid surfaces and thus near body vortex–vortex interactions in open-water swimmers have been poorly investigated. In this study, we examine the most energetically efficient metazoan swimmer known to date, the jellyfish Aurelia aurita , to elucidate the role that vortex interactions can play in animals that swim away from solid boundaries. We used high-speed video tracking, laser-based digital particle image velocimetry (dPIV) and an algorithm for extracting pressure fields from flow velocity vectors to quantify swimming performance and the effect of near body vortex–vortex interactions. Here, we show that a vortex ring (stopping vortex), created underneath the animal during the previous swim cycle, is critical for increasing propulsive performance. This well-positioned stopping vortex acts in the same way as a virtual vortex during wall-effect performance enhancement, by helping converge fluid at the underside of the propulsive surface and generating significantly higher pressures which result in greater thrust. These findings advocate that jellyfish can generate a wall-effect boost in open water by creating what amounts to a ‘virtual wall’ between two real, opposite sign vortex rings. This explains the significant propulsive advantage jellyfish possess over other metazoans and represents important implications for bio-engineered propulsion systems. 
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