Topographically Controlled Fronts in the Ocean and Their Biological Influence

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Science  08 Jul 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4862, pp. 177-181
DOI: 10.1126/science.241.4862.177


Headlands, islands, and reefs generate complex three-dimensional secondary flows that result in physical and biological fronts. Mixing and diffusion processes near these reefs and headlands are quite different from these processes in the open sea, and classical advection-diffusion models that were developed for the open sea are not valid near shore. Topographically generated fronts affect the distribution of sediments, and they aggregate waterborne eggs, larvae, and plankton. This aggregation influences the distribution and density of benthic assemblages and of pelagic secondary and tertiary predators.