Biological Consequences of El Niño

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Science  16 Dec 1983:
Vol. 222, Issue 4629, pp. 1203-1210
DOI: 10.1126/science.222.4629.1203


Observations of the 1982-1983 El Niño make it possible to relate the anomalous ocean conditions to specific biological responses. In October 1982 upwelling ecosystems in the eastern equatorial Pacific began a series of transitions from the normal highly productive condition to greatly reduced productivity. The highly productive condition had returned by July 1983. Nutrients, phytoplankton biomass, and primary productivity are clearly regulated by the physical changes of El Niño. Evidence from 1982 and 1983 also suggests effects on higher organisms such as fish, seabirds, and marine mammals, but several more years of observation are required to accurately determine the magnitude of the consequences on these higher trophic levels.

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