Responses of seabirds, in particular prions (Pachyptila sp.), to small-scale processes in the Antarctic Polar Front

J.A. van Franeker, N.W. van den Brink, U.V. Bathmann, R.T. Pollard, H.J.W. de Baar, W.J. Wolff

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32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Small-scale distribution patterns of seabirds in the Antarctic Polar Front (APF) were investigated in relation to other biological, physical, and chemical features during the ANT-XIII/2 research cruise of R.V. Polarstern from December 1995 to January 1996. The APF is characterized by steep gradients in sea-surface temperature and salinity. Within the APF, gradient zones were closely associated with elevated levels of primary production, chlorophyll-a (chl-a) concentrations, and zooplankton densities.Even broad-billed prions (Pachyptila vittata group), which dominated the seabird community by 83% in carbon requirements, showed small-scale distributional patterns that were positively related to primary production, chl-a, and total zooplankton densities. The findings demonstrate a close, direct link between fine-scale physical processes in the APF and biological activity through several food web levels up to that of zooplankton-eating seabirds. Broad-billed prions appeared to forage on very small copepods (Oithona spp.) in close association with the front. Fish- and squid-eating predators showed poor correlations with small-scale spatial structures of the APF. However, in a wider band around the APF, most top predators did occur in elevated densitiesshowing gradual spatio-temporal diffusion of the impact of the APF on higher trophic levels.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDeep-Sea Research. Part II, tropical studies in oceanography
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • fauna

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