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- Spatial assessment of fin whale hotspots and their association with krill within an important Antarctic feeding and fishing ground
- Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus quoyi) habitat use and its relationship to environmental conditions are generally unknown in the Southern Ocean, presenting challenges for predicting their seasonal occurrence and potential effects of fishing pressure and climate change on this endangered species. Using biological data collected during 14 shipboard surveys off the northern Antarctic Peninsula and oceanographic data from satellite remote sensing, we mapped the distribution of fin whale hotspots, Antarctic krill abundance (biomass from acoustics, concentrations from nets) and ocean conditions during mid- and late-summer to investigate the environmental determinants of whale hotspots. Generalized additive models (GAM) were used to test the hypothesis that intra-seasonal changes in fin whale hotspot distribution relate to sea surface temperature (SST), krill abundance and eddy kinetic energy (EKE). More whale hotspots (sightings and individuals) are observed during late- than mid-summer surveys. During mid-summer, hotspots occurred near Elephant Island while in late-summer they were distributed throughout the slope region in proximity to the mean location of the southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front. The spatial mean of EKE did not differ between mid- and late-summer surveys, but the spatial mean of SST was significantly warmer during late-summer. The GAM for mid-summer indicates that fin whale hotspots were positively related to SST, EKE and acoustically determined krill biomass. The GAM for late-summer indicates the hotspots were negatively related to net-based krill abundance and positively related to acoustic krill biomass and EKE. This study is important because environmental determinants of fin whale hotspots may be used as reference points for implementing future conservation plans for their recovering populations. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
- Santora, Schroeder, Loeb
- Characterizing estuarine plume discharge into the coastal ocean using fatty acid biomarkers and pigment analysis
- The transformation of estuaries by human activities continues to alter the biogeochemical balance of the coastal ocean. The disruption of this balance can negatively impact the provision of goods and services, including fisheries, commerce and transportation, recreation and esthetic enjoyment. Here we examine a link, between the Elkhorn Slough and the coastal ocean in Monterey Bay, California (USA) using a novel application of fatty acid and pigment analysis. Fatty acid analysis of filtered water samples showed biologically distinct water types between the Elkhorn Slough plume and the receiving waters of the coastal ocean. A remarkable feature of the biological content of the plume entering the coastal ocean was the abundance of bacteria-specific fatty acids, which correlated well with concentrations of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM). Pigment analysis showed that plume waters contained higher concentrations of diatoms and cryptophytes, while the coastal ocean waters showed higher relative concentrations of dinoflagellates. Bacteria and cryptophytes can provide a source of labile, energy-rich organic matter that may be locally important as a source of food for pelagic and benthic communities. Surface and depth surveys of the plume show that the biogeochemical constituents of the slough waters are injected into the coastal waters and become entrained in the northward flowing, nearshore current of Monterey Bay. Transport of these materials to the northern portion of the bay can fuel a bloom incubator, which exists in this region. This study shows that fatty acid markers can reveal the biogeochemical interactions between estuaries and the coastal ocean and highlights how man-made changes have the potential to influence coastal ecological change. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
- Fischer, Ryan, Levesque, Welschmeyer