Investigations into temporal and spatial variability of zooplankton at the Svalbard archipelago
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Plankton are generally considered good indicators for ocean climate variability, but plankton data from the Arctic are still comparatively scarce. Due to this scarcity of information, the prevalence of vertical migration behaviour at high latitude is still debated. Atlantic inflow is a key process governing biological diversity in the Arctic Ocean, and the location of the Svalbard archipelago makes it an ideal study area to monitor this inflow. Comparing the zooplankton community within the fjords of Svalbard at various latitudes allowed us to assess the influence of Atlantic inflow and any subsequent changes in zooplankton composition that may have implications for higher trophic levels. Using sediment traps deployed on oceanic moorings, Chapter 3 of this thesis analysed long term observations from sea-ice dominated Rijpfjorden for the first time, and compared the zooplankton to Atlantic Water influenced Kongsfjorden. Chapters 4 and 5 investigated the spatial relevance of our moored observations using shipboard observations, and chapters 6 and 7 present observations of vertical migration across a range of conditions. Kongsfjorden was dominated by Calanus copepods associated with Arctic and Atlantic water, and strongly influenced by Atlantic Water advection. Rijpfjorden was largely influenced by sea-ice formation with higher proportional abundances of macrozooplankton species. Advection brought Atlantic associated species into Rijpfjorden during warmer years. Prevailing hydrology and bathymetry were highlighted as factors forcing zooplankton distribution, while advection was identified as responsible for much of the observed small scale spatial variation amongst weaker swimmers. At an aggregation scale of 0.5 nautical miles, zooplankton distribution was highly patchy and moored observations could only be reliably expanded outwards to a maximum of 1 nautical mile. Low amplitude diel vertical migration (especially by younger copepodids) was identified in surface waters when a food source was available. These observations must be considered within the dynamic framework of advection highlighted by this thesis.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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