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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Seabirds such as the albatross Diomedea epomophora are important nutrient vectors in the Southern Ocean. Photo: S. Wing

Wing SR, Jack L, Shatova O, Leichter JJ, Barr D, Frew RD, Gault-Ringold M


Seabirds and marine mammals redistribute bioavailable iron in the Southern Ocean


Biological vectors are important for the redistribution of nutrients in ecosystems. Wing and co-authors report evidence for high concentrations of iron and other limiting micronutrients in the diet of seabirds and marine mammals found near New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands. Birds and mammals thus act as biological vectors and redistribute nutrients across the system. This conditions the ecosystem's response to changes in abundance of top trophic level species and the services that they provide. Restoration of populations of these critical species should result in greater lateral diffusion of nutrients in the vicinity of islands, thereby enhancing productivity in the Southern Ocean.


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