Restricted regions of enhanced growth of Antarctic krill in the circumpolar Southern Ocean
Food webs in high-latitude oceans are dominated by relatively few species. Future ocean and sea-ice changes affecting the distribution of such species will impact the structure and functioning of whole ecosystems. Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is a key species in Southern Ocean food webs, but there is little understanding of the factors influencing its success throughout much of the ocean. The capacity of a habitat to maintain growth will be crucial and here we use an empirical relationship of growth rate to assess seasonal spatial variability. Over much of the ocean, potential for growth is limited, with three restricted oceanic regions where seasonal conditions permit high growth rates, and only a few areas around the Scotia Sea and Antarctic Peninsula suitable for growth of the largest krill (>60 mm). Our study demonstrates that projections of impacts of future change need to account for spatial and seasonal variability of key ecological processes within ocean ecosystems.
Authors: Murphy, Eugene J., Thorpe, Sally E., Tarling, Geraint A., Watkins, Jonathan L., Fielding, Sophie, Underwood, Philip