MEPS 367:271-282 (2008)  -  doi:10.3354/meps07530

Distribution, abundance and ecological relevance of pelagic fishes in the Lazarev Sea, Southern Ocean

Hauke Flores1,2,*, Anton P. Van de Putte3, Volker Siegel4, Evgeny A. Pakhomov5,6, Jan A. van Franeker1, Erik H. W. G. Meesters1, Filip A. M. Volckaert3

1Wageningen IMARES, PO Box 167, 1790 AD Den Burg (Texel), The Netherlands
2University of Groningen, Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, PO Box 14, 9700 AA Haren, The Netherlands
3Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Laboratory of Animal Diversity and Systematics, Ch. Deberiotstraat 32, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
4Institut für Seefischerei, Palmaille 9, 22767 Hamburg, Germany
5Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, 6339 Stores Road, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada
6Zoology Department, University of Fort Hare, Private Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa

ABSTRACT: The distribution and abundance of larval and postlarval fishes was investigated in the Lazarev Sea, Southern Ocean, in March and April 2004. The upper 200 m of the water column were sampled with an 8 m2 rectangular midwater trawl at 93 stations. The larval species community clustered in a diverse coastal community with high densities of Antarctic silverfish Pleuragramma antarcticum larvae and a less diverse offshore community dominated by Antarctic jonasfish Notolepis coatsi and the lanternfish Electrona antarctica. No postlarval fish were caught in coastal areas. The offshore community of postlarval fishes consisted of the deep-sea smelt Bathylagus antarcticus, and the lanternfishes Gymnoscopelus braueri, G. nicholsi and E. antarctica. The latter species clearly dominated, occurring at mean individual and wet mass densities of 0.17 individuals m–2 and 0.26 g m–2, respectively. A generalized additive model significantly related the density of postlarval E. antarctica to the abundance of Antarctic krill Euphausia superba, ocean depth and sea surface temperature. The diet of E. antarctica was dominated by copepods and euphausiid larvae. Mean energy density of E. antarctica in the upper 200 m was 2.8 kJ m–2, which is equivalent to 36% of the energy stored in Antarctic krill stocks and probably would be considerably higher if a greater depth range were considered. This suggests that E. antarctica is a major energy transmitter in the food web of the Lazarev Sea, challenging the classical krill-dominated food web paradigm of the Southern Ocean.

KEY WORDS: Antarctic · Southern Ocean · Fish abundance · Fish ecology · Fish larvae · Energy · Food web

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Cite this article as: Flores H, Van de Putte AP, Siegel V, Pakhomov EA, van Franeker JA, Meesters EHWG, Volckaert FAM (2008) Distribution, abundance and ecological relevance of pelagic fishes in the Lazarev Sea, Southern Ocean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 367:271-282

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