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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 331:161-179 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps331161

Recruitment of Antarctic krill Euphausia superba in the South Georgia region: adult fecundity and the fate of larvae

G. A. Tarling1,*, J. Cuzin-Roudy2, S. E. Thorpe1, R. S. Shreeve1, P. Ward1, E. J. Murphy1

1British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
2Observatoire Océanologique, Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6), CNRS (UMR 7093), 06230 Villefranche-sur-mer, France

ABSTRACT: The high concentration of adult Antarctic krill Euphausia superba Dana around South Georgia, Antarctica, is a product of immigration and not local recruitment. We investigated whether reproduction and early larval development are the cause of local recruitment failure. It was found that the majority of adult females were reproductively active in summer and that there was a comparatively high investment in the ovary, reaching up to 46% of the total wet weight of the krill. The corresponding egg batches were amongst the largest ever reported for E. superba. A semi-empirical model predicted that 11% of females completed just 1 spawning episode per year, 60% completed 2, and 29% completed 3 or more. On average, a South Georgian krill released 12343 eggs yr–1. The eggs were unable to complete the descent–ascent developmental cycle on-shelf because the bathymetry was too shallow but, off-shelf, they were predicted to sink to between 490 and 520 m and return to the surface either as a metanauplius or 1st calyptopis stage with plenty of energy reserves remaining. Feeding conditions were adequate for the development of later larval stages once these reserves were exhausted. Although net surveys found calyptopis and early stage furcilia in the vicinity of South Georgia, numbers were mostly lower than predicted. Overall, reproduction or early stage development are successful in this region, leaving predation on larvae and advective export during winter as the main potential causes of local recruitment failure.

KEY WORDS: Reproduction · Advection · Ocean circulation and climate advanced model · OCCAM · Ascent–descent cycle · Fecundity · Predation · Southern Ocean · Polar regions

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