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Descartes prize

Food-web relationships of zooplankton

Principal Investigator: Astthor Gislason (Iceland).


1. Examine the organisation and trophic structure of the pelagic ecosystem over the Reykjanes Ridge from phytoplankton to fish as apex predators.
2. Estimate biomass at various trophic levels and energy flow through the ecosystem.
3. Determine diurnal changes in vertical distribution and feeding.
4. Relate patterns in primary productivity, distribution and diurnal migration of species to water mass characteristics and hydrography.


There is a change in the trophic structure of zooplankton across the MAR.


Overall mapping along a transect running perpendicular to the Reykjanes Ridge. More detailed studies at five stations along the transect.


  • Multiple-opening-closing nets (Multinet, Norwegian macroplankton trawl with three opening-closing cod-ends).
  • Midwater-trawl
  • Hydroacoustics (multi-frequency systems using hull and towed vehicle mounted transducers).
  • Optics (OPC mounted on towed vehicle).
  • Nu-Shuttle (towed vehicle equipped with CTD, light meter, fluorometer, OPC)
  • Egg production and gut fluorescence analysis


Preparation of field work: 2002-2003, Sampling and observation at sea: 2003, Analysis of environmental data: 2003; Analysis and dissemination of zooplankton data: 2004-2008.


Astthor Gislason, Hafsteinn Gudfinnsson, Héðinn Valdimarsson, Olafur S. Astthorsson, Thorsteinn Sigurdsson (Iceland), Eilif Gaard, Høgni Debes (Faroes), Webjørn Melle, Ulf Båmstedt, Tone Falkenhaug (Norway).

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