MEPS - Vol. 362 - Feature article

Krill Euphausia superba, which grows to a size of 6.4 cm, is at the boundary between plankton and nekton, and supports a large biomass of predators as well as a commercial fishery. Photo: Chris Gilberg

Atkinson A, Siegel V, Pakhomov EA, Rothery P, Loeb V, Ross RM, Quetin LB, Schmidt K, Fretwell P, Murphy EJ, Tarling GA, Fleming AH

 

Oceanic circumpolar habitats of Antarctic krill

 

Krill Euphausia superba populations, which have a large biomass and a circumpolar distribution, are a key element of the Antarctic food web. Atkinson and co-workers have compiled all available net-based data collected during the austral summer. They found that 70% of the krill stock is located in the Atlantic sector, and 87% is located over deep oceanic water, which is only moderately productive. This is in contrast to current thinking that krill depends on highly productive areas such as the continental shelf. Oceanic distribution, however, shelters krill from the most intense predation, while still allowing for adequate growth.

 

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