MEPS - Vol. 560 - FEATURE ARTICLE

Schematic plankton patchiness in Polar Front surface waters. Response of the size-fractionated plankton (small, medium, large) distribution patterns to a structured environment is presented in both horizontal (hydrographic front and eddy) and vertical (stratification and meander) planes. Graphic: Emilia Trudnowska

Trudnowska E, Gluchowska M, Beszczynska-Möller A, Blachowiak-Samolyk K, Kwasniewski S

 

Plankton patchiness in the Polar Front region of the West Spitsbergen Shelf

The phenomenon of plankton patchiness was studied by Trudnowska and colleagues concurrently with measurements of environmental conditions in the surface layer (50 m) of the Polar Front region. Observed plankton patches occupied only a minor portion of the studied ocean area; however, they contained plankton concentrations several times higher than the plankton concentrations in the surrounding waters. The distribution of patches containing the small-size fraction (phytoplankton, inorganic particles) was closely related to hydrographical features. Patches of medium-sized zooplankton and marine snow were observed mainly in conjunction with discontinuities in density field. By contrast, the distribution of the large-sized zooplankton organisms was independent from any oceanographic feature detected in this study, pointing towards biological cues as factors regulating their aggregation process.

 

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