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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 395:101-107 (2009)  -  DOI:

Mesoscale eddies influence distribution and aggregation patterns of micronekton in the Mozambique Channel

Philippe S. Sabarros1,2,*, Frédéric Ménard1, Jean-Jacques Lévénez3, Emilie Tew-Kai1, Jean-François Ternon4

1Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), UMR 212 EME, Centre de Recherche Halieutique Méditerranéenne et Tropicale (CRH), Avenue Jean Monnet, BP 171, 34203 Sète Cedex, France
2Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
3IRD, US 004 ACCAPELLA, BP 70, 29280 Plouzané, France
4IRD, UMR 212 EME, BP 172, 97492 Ste Clotilde Cedex, La Réunion, France

ABSTRACT: Oceanic mesoscale circulation is a crucial structuring force in the marine environment. Dynamic processes associated with eddies, such as eddy-induced upwelling or eddy–eddy interaction, drive the transport and distribution of nutrients that support the whole food chain, presumably through bottom-up processes. Eddies can shape the distribution of organisms at both low (phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish larvae) and high trophic levels (top fish predators, seabirds or turtles), but the impact of mesoscale features on intermediate trophic levels (micronekton) remains poorly understood. We analysed the influence of eddies on the distribution of micronekton aggregations in the Mozambique Channel by combining data from acoustic surveys and satellite sea topography. We demonstrated that large aggregations of micronekton occurred mainly in areas where the local horizontal gradient of sea level anomalies is strong, i.e. at the periphery of eddies. We observed that, in this region, eddies running along the coast advect coastal nutrient-rich waters at their edges, which support the base of the food chain. We propose that eddies can shape the distribution and the aggregation patterns of the prey of marine top predators through bottom-up processes.

KEY WORDS: Mesoscale eddies · Micronekton · Sea level anomalies · Aggregating behaviour · Indian Ocean

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Cite this article as: Sabarros PS, Ménard F, Lévénez JJ, Tew-Kai E, Ternon JF (2009) Mesoscale eddies influence distribution and aggregation patterns of micronekton in the Mozambique Channel. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 395:101-107.

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