Macro-ecology of plankton–seabird associations in the North Pacific Ocean

Sydeman, WJ, Thompson, SA, Santora, JA, Henry, MF, Morgan, KH and Batten, SD 2010 Macro-ecology of plankton–seabird associations in the North Pacific Ocean. Journal of Plankton Research, 32 (12). 1697-1713.

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In conjunction with the North Pacific Continuous Plankton Recorder program, we conducted surveys of seabirds from June 2002 to June 2007. Here, we tested the hypotheses of (i) east–west variations in coupled plankton and seabird abundance, and (ii) that surface-feeding and diving seabirds vary in their relationships to primary productivity and mesozooplankton species abundance and diversity. To test these hypotheses, we developed statistical models for 20 species of seabirds and 12 zooplankton taxonomic groups. Seabird density was highly variable between seasons, but was consistently higher in the western than eastern North Pacific. Seabird diversity was greater in the east. Zooplankton abundance did not differ between regions. We found associations at the “bulk” level between seabird density and net primary productivity, but only one association between seabirds and total zooplankton abundance or diversity. However, we found many relationships between seabird species and the abundance of different zooplankton summarized at the genus or family level. Some of these taxonomic relationships reflect direct predator–prey interactions, while others may reflect zooplankton that serve as ecological indicators of other prey, such as micronekton, upon which the birds may feed. Surface or near-surface feeding, mostly piscivorous seabirds, did not differ systematically from diving, mainly planktivorous seabirds in their zooplankton associations. Seabirds apparently respond to zooplankton taxonomic groupings more so than bulk zooplankton characteristics, such as abundance or diversity. Macro-ecological studies of remote marine ecosystems using zooplankton and seabirds as ecological indicators provide a framework for understanding and assessing spatial and temporal variations in these difficult-to-study pelagic environments.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Depositing User: Miss Gemma Brice
Date made live: 26 Mar 2014 14:09
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2017 17:57

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