Effects of sea ice cover on the swarming behaviour of Antarctic krill,Euphausia superba
Much of the distribution range of Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, is covered by permanent or seasonal sea ice. Sea ice extent has been implicated as a major factor affecting reproductive success of krill and krill dispersal, but little is known of the way in which ice cover may influence krill behaviour. This is largely because the under-ice environment is difficult to study. Ship-borne echosounders have, however, detected krill aggregations in midwater in ice-covered regions. We used 120-kHz echograms collected underway during three cruises that crossed ice-covered and adjacent open waters in the Bellingshausen, Weddell, and Scotia seas to compare morphological and next-neighbour characteristics of krill swarms within and without ice cover. No significant differences were detected between the horizontal and vertical extent of swarms or swarm next-neighbour distance in ice-covered or open waters. Distributions of swarm mid-depths did, however, differ significantly between ice-covered and open areas in all three seas, although the direction of difference was not the same in each instance: swarms in the Weddell and Scotia seas were generally shallower under ice than in open water, whereas in the Bellingshausen Sea the opposite prevailed.