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  1. Abstract

    Diel vertical migration (DVM) is common in zooplankton populations worldwide. Every day, zooplankton leave the productive surface ocean and migrate to deepwater to avoid visual predators and return to the surface at night to feed. This behavior may also help retain migrating zooplankton in biological hotspots. Compared to fast and variable surface currents, deep ocean currents are sluggish, and can be more consistent. The time spent in the subsurface layer is driven by day length and the depth of the surface mixed layer. A subsurface, recirculating eddy has recently been described in Palmer Deep Canyon (PDC), a submarine canyon in a biological hotspot located adjacent to the West Antarctic Peninsula. Circulation model simulations have shown that residence times of neutrally buoyant particles increase with depth within this feature. We hypothesize that DVM into the subsurface eddy increases local retention of migrating zooplankton in this feature and that shallow mixed layers and longer days increase residence times. We demonstrate that simulated vertically migrating zooplankton can have residence times on the order of 30 days over the canyon, which is five times greater than residence times of near‐surface, nonmigrating zooplankton within PDC and other adjacent coastal regions. The potential interaction of zooplankton with this subsurface feature may be important to the establishment of the biological hotspot around PDC by retaining food resources in the region. Acoustic field observations confirm the presence of vertical migrators in this region, suggesting that zooplankton retention due to the subsurface eddy is feasible.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Palmer Deep Canyon is one of the biological hotspots associated with deep bathymetric features along the West Antarctic Peninsula. The upwelling of nutrient‐rich Upper Circumpolar Deep Water to the surface mixed layer in the submarine canyon has been hypothesized to drive increased phytoplankton biomass, attracting krill, penguins and other top predators to the area. However, observations in Palmer Deep Canyon lack a clearin‐situupwelling signal, laboratory experiments do not illustrate a physiological response by phytoplankton to Upper Circumpolar Deep Water, and surface residence times are too short for phytoplankton populations to reasonably respond to any locally upwelled nutrients. This suggests that local upwelling may not be the mechanism that links Palmer Deep Canyon to increased biological activity. Previous observations of isopycnal doming within the canyon suggested that a subsurface recirculating feature may be present. Here, usingin‐situmeasurements and a circulation model, we demonstrate that the presence of a recirculating eddy may contribute to the maintenance of the biological hotspot by increasing residence times at depth and retaining a distinct layer of biological particles. Neutrally buoyant particle simulations showed that residence times increase to ∼175 days at 150 m within the canyon during the austral summer.In‐situparticle scattering, flow cytometry, and water samples from within the subsurface eddy suggest that retained particles are detrital in nature. Our results suggest that this seasonal, retentive feature in Palmer Deep Canyon is important to the retention of biological material and may contribute to the maintenance of this hotspot.

     
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  3. The distribution of marine zooplankton depends on both ocean currents and swimming behavior. Many zooplankton perform diel vertical migration (DVM) between the surface and subsurface, which can have different current regimes. If concentration mechanisms, such as fronts or eddies, are present in the subsurface, they may impact zooplankton near-surface distributions when they migrate to near-surface waters. A subsurface, retentive eddy within Palmer Deep Canyon (PDC), a submarine canyon along the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), retains diurnal vertically migrating zooplankton in previous model simulations. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the presence of the PDC and its associated subsurface eddy increases the availability and delivery of simulated Antarctic krill to nearby penguin foraging regions with model simulations over a single austral summer. We found that the availability and delivery rates of simulated krill to penguin foraging areas adjacent to PDC were greater when the PDC was present compared to when PDC was absent, and when DVM was deepest. These results suggest that the eddy has potential to enhance krill availability to upper trophic level predators and suggests that retention may play a significant role in resource availability for predators in other similar systems along the WAP and in other systems with sustained subsurface eddies. 
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  4. We evaluated annual and regional variation in the dietary niche of Pygoscelis penguins including the sea ice-obligate Adélie penguin ( Pygoscelis adeliae ), and sea ice-intolerant chinstrap ( Pygoscelis antarcticus ) and gentoo ( Pygoscelis papua ) penguins, three species that nest throughout the western Antarctic Peninsula (AP) to test the sea ice trophic interaction hypothesis , which posits that penguin breeding populations with divergent trends, i.e., declining or increasing, are reliant on differing food webs. Our study relies on values of naturally occurring carbon ( 13 C/ 12 C, δ 13 C) and nitrogen ( 15 N/ 14 N, δ 15 N) stable isotopes as integrated proxies of penguin food webs measured over three years at three different breeding colonies. At Anvers Island in the north, where reductions in sea ice and changes in breeding population trends among sympatric sea ice-obligate (Adélie) and sea ice-intolerant (chinstrap and gentoo) penguins have been most notable, our analyses show that all three species of Pygoscelis penguins became more similar isotopically over the reproductive period. By late chick-rearing at Anvers Island, crèched chicks at 5-weeks-old for all species occupied similar trophic positions. Isotopic mixing models indicated that the proportions of prey provisioned by adult penguins to 5-week-old chicks at Anvers Island were generally similar across species within years, consisting primarily of Antarctic krill ( Euphausia superba ). Crèched Adélie chicks had higher δ 13 C and δ 15 N values at Avian and Charcot Islands, southern breeding colonies where sea ice is more prominent and populations of Adélie penguins have increased or remain stable. Trophic position increased with latitude, while the proportions of prey provisioned by Adélie penguin adults to chicks at southern breeding colonies included species typical of high Antarctic marine food webs, especially crystal krill ( Euphausia crystallorophias ). A Bayesian metric for dietary niche width, standard ellipse area (SEA-B), indicated that Pygoscelis penguins with greater population changes in the north had more variability in dietary niche width than stable populations further south. Our results lend insight on marine food web drivers of Pygoscelis penguin reproduction at the regional scale and question the long-standing paradigm that Antarctic krill are the only food web component critical to penguin reproductive survival in this region of the Southern Ocean. 
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