Antarctic Mesopelagic Micronekton: Evidence from Seabirds That Pack Ice Affects Community Structure

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Science  16 May 1986:
Vol. 232, Issue 4752, pp. 847-849
DOI: 10.1126/science.232.4752.847


Through a multidisciplinary project (AMERIEZ), with an unusual complement of components, previously unknown temporal and spatial dimensions to the structure of Antarctic epipelagic and mesopelagic communities were revealed. In late spring, an abundance of crustacean species thought to occur only below 300 meters was detected in ice-covered surface waters. Evident in ice-free waters were the expected occurrence patterns of these normally nonmigratory mesopelagic organisms. Where the pack was consolidated and little light penetrated to depth, primary and secondary production was confined to ice floes, and the physical environment immediately beneath the ice was reminiscent of a mesopelagic one. This suite of characteristics possibly explains why the crustaceans resided at the surface.