The influence of mid-ocean ridges on euphausiid and pelagic ecology
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Chapters 1 & 2. Euphausiids comprise a major component of ecosystems in the pelagic realm, the world’s largest habitat, but basin scale drivers of euphausiids diversity and abundance are poorly understood. Mid-Ocean Ridges are the largest topographical feature in the pelagic realm and their benthic and pelagic fauna have only just recently become the focus of research. This thesis present new analyses on the drivers of euphausiids species richness in the Atlantic and the Pacific, giving specific attention to the influence of Mid-Ocean Ridges. New information is given on the biogeography of euphausiids and pelagic food-web trophology of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and on the biogeography of pelagic decapods on the South-West Indian Ocean ridge. 3. A Generalized Additive Model framework was used to explore spatial patterns of variability in euphausiid species richness (from recognized areas of occurrence) and in numerical abundance (from the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey) in conjunction with variability in a suite of biological, physical and environmental parameters on, and at either side of, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Euphausiid species richness peaked in mid-latitudes and was significantly higher on the ridge than in adjacent waters, but the ridge did not influence numerical abundance in the top 10 m significantly. Sea surface temperature (SST) was the most important single factor influencing both euphausiid numerical abundance (-76.7%) and species richness (34.44%). Dissolved silicate concentration, a proxy for diatom abundance, significantly increased species richness (29.46%). Increases in sea surface height variance, a proxy for mixing, increased the numerical abundance of euphausiids. GAM predictions of variability in species richness as a function of SST and depth of the mixed layer were consistent with present theories, which suggest that pelagic niche-availability is related to the thermal structure of the near surface water. 4. Using a Generalized Additive Model in the Pacific, the main drivers of species richness, in order of decreasing importance, were found to be sea surface temperature (explaining 29.53% in species variability), salinity (20.29%), longitude (-15.01%, species richness decreased from West to East), distance to coast (10.99%), and dissolved silicate concentration (9.03%). An additional linear model poorly predicted numerical abundance. The practical differences in drivers of species richness in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean were compared. Predictions of future species richness changes in the Pacific and Atlantic were made using projected environmental change from the IPCC A1B climate scenario, suggesting an increase in species richness in temperature latitudes (30° to 60° N and S) and little to no change in low latitudes (20° N to 20° S). 5. New baseline information is presented on biogeography, abundance and vertical distribution of euphausiids along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (40° to 62° N). 18 species were recorded, with Euphausia krohni and Thysanoessa longicaudata being most abundant. Eight species had not been recorded in the area previously. The Subpolar Front is a northern boundary to some southern species, but not a southern boundary to northern ubiquitous species that show submergence. Four major species assemblages were identified and characterised in terms of spatial distribution and species composition. Numerical abundance was highly variable but decreased by orders of magnitude with depth. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge showed only a marginal effect on euphausiid distribution and abundance patterns. 6. Zooplankton and micronektic invertebrate epi- and mesopelagic (0-200 and 200-800 m) vertical distribution (e.g. Euphausiacea, Decapoda, Amphipoda, Thecosomata, Lophogastrida) on either side of the Subpolar Front of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is described. Dietary relationships are explored, using stable isotope ratios and fatty acid trophic marker (FATM) composition. An increase in trophic level with size was observed. Individuals from southern stations were higher in dinoflagellate Fatty Acid Trophic Markers (FATM) (22:6(n-3)) and individuals from northern stations were higher in Calanus spp and storage FATMs (20:1(n-9) and 22:1(n-9)) reflecting primary production patterns in the two survey sectors. Observations on the geographical and vertical variability in trophodynamics are discussed. 7. New baseline information is presented on the biogeography, abundance, and vertical distribution of mesopelagic (200-1000 m), crustacean micronekton on- and offseamounts of the South-West Indian Ocean Ridge (26° to 42° S). Species richness and numerical abundance were typically higher near seamounts and lower over the abyssal plains, with several species being caught uniquely on seamounts. Observations suggest that the ‘oasis effect’ of seamounts conventionally associated with higher trophic levels is also applicable to pelagic micronektic crustaceans at lower trophic levels. Biophysical coupling of micronekton to seamounts may be an important factor controlling benthopelagic coupling in seamount food-webs. 8. Euphausiid and pelagic diversity is driven primarily by geographical variability in temperature, by longitudinal patterns in upwellings, and by variability in nutrient concentration. Mid-Ocean Ridges modify pelagic ecology, by raising the seafloor and by bringing in proximity true pelagic and bathypelagic predators associated with the seabed. The increase in specialized fauna and biomass associated with ridges and seamounts serves to deplete zooplankton in the near bottom layer (0-200 m) and affect systems in and above the benthic boundary layer (<200 m from the seafloor), and the benthopelagic faunal layer. Mid-Ocean Ridges may serve to structure pelagic faunal distribution, and increase the overall diversity of the world ocean. The influence of ridges in the ocean basin may be comparable to that of hedges in a farmland; whilst delimiting the extent of crops (or zooplankton assemblages), hedges serve as local hotspots of mammal and avian diversity.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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