MEPS prepress abstract  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13017

Spatial structuring and life history connectivity of Antarctic silverfish along the southern continental shelf of the Weddell Sea

Jilda Alicia Caccavo*, Julian R. Ashford, Svenja Ryan, Chiara Papetti, Michael Schröder, Lorenzo Zane

*Email: ergo@jildacaccavo.com

ABSTRACT: A multidisciplinary approach was employed to examine a physical-biological population hypothesis for a critical forage species, the Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarctica). A previous study had shown strong gene flow along the westward Antarctic Slope Current, in addition to spatially recurring length modes that provided evidence for episodic connectivity. In this paper, otolith nucleus chemistry from a subset of fish collected in the southern Weddell Sea as part of a hydrographic survey of the Filchner Trough system was used to test between connectivity scenarios. Nucleus chemistry, which reflects environmental exposure during early life, showed significant spatial structuring despite homogeneity in microsatellite allele frequencies. Mg⋅Ca-1 and Sr⋅Ca-1 differentiated length modes, and Mg⋅Ca-1 showed significant contrasts between Atka Bay, Halley Bay, and Filchner Trough. Physical-biological mechanisms may help reconcile structuring shown by otolith chemistry, length, and abundance data with prior evidence of gene flow. Such mechanisms include self-recruitment shaped by circulation associated with the Filchner Trough, fluctuations in mixing between immigrant and locally-recruited fish, and feeding opportunities between inflowing Modified Warm Deep Water and outflowing Ice Shelf Water. The results illustrate how comparisons between multi-disciplinary techniques based on integrated sampling designs that incorporate hydrography can enhance understanding of population structure and connectivity around the Southern Ocean.