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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 510:129-149 (2014)  -  DOI:

Environmental drivers of the fine-scale distribution of a gelatinous zooplankton community across a mesoscale front

Jessica Y. Luo1,*, Benjamin Grassian1, Dorothy Tang1, Jean-Olivier Irisson2, Adam T. Greer1,3, Cedric M. Guigand1, Sam McClatchie4, Robert K. Cowen1,5

1Marine Biology and Fisheries, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami,
4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
2Ocean Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer, University of Pierre and Marie Curie, 181 Chemin du Lazaret,
06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
3College of Engineering, University of Georgia, 200 D.W. Brooks Dr., Athens, Giorgia 30602, USA
4Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 8901 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, California 92037, USA
5Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon State University, 2030 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Mesoscale fronts occur frequently in many coastal areas and often are sites of elevated productivity; however, knowledge of the fine-scale distribution of zooplankton at these fronts is lacking, particularly within the mid-trophic levels. Furthermore, small (<13 cm) gelatinous zooplankton are ubiquitous, but are under-studied, and their abundances underestimated due to inadequate sampling technology. Using the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS), we describe the fine-scale distribution of small gelatinous zooplankton at a sharp salinity-driven front in the Southern California Bight. Between 15 and 17 October 2010, over 129000 hydromedusae, ctenophores, and siphonophores within 44 taxa, and nearly 650000 pelagic tunicates were imaged in 5450 m3 of water. Organisms were separated into 4 major assemblages which were largely associated with depth-related factors. Species distribution modeling using boosted regression trees revealed that hydromedusae and tunicates were primarily associated with temperature and depth, siphonophores with dissolved oxygen (DO) and chlorophyll a fluorescence, and ctenophores with DO. The front was the least influential out of all environmental variables modeled. Additionally, except for 6 taxa, all other taxa were not aggregated at the front. Results provide new insights into the biophysical drivers of gelatinous zooplankton distributions and the varying influence of mesoscale fronts in structuring zooplankton communities.

KEY WORDS: Gelatinous zooplankton · Jellyfish · Fronts · Community dynamics · Aggregations · Environmental drivers · Imaging systems · Southern California Bight

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Cite this article as: Luo JY, Grassian B, Tang D, Irisson JO and others (2014) Environmental drivers of the fine-scale distribution of a gelatinous zooplankton community across a mesoscale front. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 510:129-149.

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