Concordance of interannual fluctuations in acoustically estimated densities of Antarctic krill around South Georgia and Elephant Island: biological evidence of same-year teleconnections across the Scotia Sea

Acoustic estimates of the densities of Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, in areas around South Georgia (SG) and Elephant Island (EI) were compared for seven austral summers between 1981 and 1997. Estimated densities of krill at SG were most often lower than at EI, although this may simply have been a function of differences in the survey and data-analysis techniques used at each site. More interestingly, the magnitudes of density and between-year gradients of density at each site were mirrored by those at the other location; for example 1991 and 1994 were years of very low krill density at both SG and EI. There was no apparent lag in changes in density between sites, and ranked between-year gradients in density at both locations were closely correlated. These pronounced similarities suggest that densities of krill at both locations are linked directly, and may be impacted by the same gross physical and biological factors (e.g. recruitment, dispersal and environmental variability) acting over the same temporal and spatial scales. The observed concordance also implies that the pelagic ecosystems at these widely separated sites (≃1500 km distant at opposite sides of the Scotia Sea) are not operating in isolation. Fluctuations in krill density were investigated with reference to cyclical variations in sea ice extent, and in air and sea-surface temperature. The resulting model suggests that the 1999/2000 austral summer will be one of low krill density.


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Authors: Brierley, A. S., Demer, D. A., Watkins, J. L., Hewitt, R. P.

On this site: Jonathan Watkins
1 January, 1999
Marine Biology / 134
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