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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 650:217-238 (2020)  -  DOI:

Changing with the tides: fine-scale larval fish prey availability and predation pressure near a tidally modulated river plume

Kelsey Swieca1,2,*, Su Sponaugle1,2, Christian Briseño-Avena2,3, Moritz S. Schmid2, Richard D. Brodeur4, Robert K. Cowen2

1Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA
2Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon State University, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA
3Department of Environmental and Ocean Sciences, University of San Diego, San Diego, California 92110, USA
4National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA
*Corresponding author:
Advance View was available online June 24, 2020

ABSTRACT: Tidally controlled river plumes form distinct frontal boundaries that can alter the spatial distributions of larval fishes and their planktonic prey and predators. Variable in nature, they may expose larval fishes to different trophic environments over small spatio-temporal scales, with unknown consequences for survival and recruitment. In the northern California Current, the Columbia River Plume is strongly influenced by twice-daily freshwater injections that create a highly dynamic coastal environment. Using the In situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System, we examined changes in the fine-scale horizontal and vertical distributions of larval fishes, their prey, and their predators over space and time (ebb/flood tide). In total, 6095 fish larvae and ~1.5 million prey/predator zooplankton were imaged and measured. Plume regions provided substantially higher concentrations of prey and enhanced spatial overlap between larval fishes and their prey relative to oceanic waters. The functionality of river plumes as a refuge from predators was less clear. Predator concentrations were also higher in plume regions, but overlap with larval fishes was taxon-specific and varied with the tide. Notably, regions of high zooplankton concentrations did not necessarily confer high spatial overlap on small scales (meters vertical, kms horizontal) relevant to trophic interactions. Surface salinity and chlorophyll a were the most important factors influencing the spatial overlap of zooplankton with larval fishes. In the vicinity of river plumes, larval fishes experience a diversity of unique prey and predator fields over short spatio-temporal scales, which likely contribute to variable growth and mortality patterns at much finer scales than previously thought.

KEY WORDS: Larval fish · Trophic interactions · River plumes · Fine scale · Zooplankton distributions

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Cite this article as: Swieca K, Sponaugle S, Briseño-Avena C, Schmid MS, Brodeur RD, Cowen RK (2020) Changing with the tides: fine-scale larval fish prey availability and predation pressure near a tidally modulated river plume. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 650:217-238.

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