MEPS 274:87-97 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps274087

Assemblages of fish larvae and mesozooplankton across the continental shelf and shelf slope of the Andaman Sea (NE Indian Ocean)

Peter Munk1,*, Peter Koefoed Bjørnsen2, Pensri Boonruang3, Michael Fryd2, Per Juel Hansen4, Vudhichai Janekarn3, Vitthaya Limtrakulvong3, Torkel Gissel Nielsen2, Ole Schou Hansen2, Suree Satapoomin3, Suchat Sawangarreruks3, Helge Abilhauge Thomsen1, Jette Buch Østergaard5

1Department of Marine Ecology and Aquaculture, Danish Institute for Fisheries Research, Charlottenlund Castle, 2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark
2Department of Marine Ecology, National Environmental Research Institute, Frederiksborgvej 399, PO Box 358, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
3Phuket Marine Biological Center, PO Box 60, 83000 Phuket, Thailand
4Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Copenhagen, Strandpromenaden 5, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark
5Botanical Institute, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 2D, 1353 Copenhagen, Denmark

ABSTRACT: We studied the cross-shelf variation in hydrography and plankton dynamics off west Thailand, focusing on physical-biological linkages. The overall research programme investigated linkages between physics, chemistry and plankton biology; in the present paper we consider the findings based on the sampling of fish larvae and mesozooplankton. Surveys were carried out during 2 monsoon periods in March and August 1996, using 3 cross-bathymetric transects extending to the deeper part of the shelf slope of the Andaman Sea. Station distances were either 5 or 10 n miles apart, and at each station a series of net tows were carried out, targeting different size ranges of organisms. Plankton were identified to order (invertebrates) or family (fish larvae), and their abundances and biomass estimated. The abundance of both mesozooplankton and fish larvae peaked mid-shelf (50 to 65 m bottom depth) coinciding with a hydrographic front generated where the pycnocline meets the sea-bottom. An internal wave of pronounced amplitude interacts with the shelf slope at ca. 300 m bottom depth, and findings indicated another zone of enhanced abundance in this area. Analysis of the relative abundances of fish larvae within families revealed a marked cross-shelf structuring into a number of larval assemblages. Distinct assemblages were identified in nearshore areas, at mid-shelf in the area of the hydrographic front, and off the shelf break in oceanic water. Less pronounced variation was seen in the along-shelf direction and between monsoon periods.

KEY WORDS: Fish larval assemblages · Cross-shelf plankton distribution · Frontal hydrography · Monsoon periods

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