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MARECO Zooplankton Working Group Meeting

A working group meeting was held at the Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, 11 - 13 September 2002, in order to produce a project application for the MARECO zooplankton project Z1: “Distribution, abundance and species composition of zooplankton in cross-frontal and cross-ridge transects of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.”

Eight people from the zooplankton group participated at the meeting. After three days of discussions and writing, the group came up with a preliminary draft of a project application for the Z1 project. This draft will soon be put out on the MARECO website.

Olafur Astthorson (MRI, Iceland)
Annelies C. Pierrot-Bults (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Andrew Brierley (University of St Andrews, UK)
Alexander Vereshchaka (IO RAS, Moscow, Russia)
Ulf Båmstedt (University of Bergen, Norway)
Henrik Søiland (IMR, Bergen), Webjørn Melle (IMR, Bergen), and Tone Falkenhaug (IMR, Flødevigen, Norway).

The Z1 project will have the following four main objectives:

1. To map the longitudinal and latitudinal changes in zooplankton biomass and species composition, in relation to water mass distribution, circulation and bathymetry

Climatically-induced latitudinal patterns in surface productivity lead to latitudinal patterns in composition and abundances of zooplankton. The bottom topography interacts with both deep-water circulation and the near surface circulation. This will in turn affect advective rates and create large scale variations in both vertical and horizontal distribution of zooplankton across the MAR. In addition, species distribution and composition of plankton depends upon the history of the water it inhabits.

2. To investigate, at the scale of mesohabitats, the impact of seafloor topography (e.g. seamounts) on zooplankton vertical and horizontal distribution, abundances and species composition.

The interaction of seamounts with ocean currents generates variability in the physical flow field at different scales, affecting the distribution of zooplankton. Predator prey interactions between the benthopelagic/benthic and pelagic communities, may further impact upon distributions and abundances of zooplankton.

3. To investigate changes in vertical distribution (including diel vertical migration) and species composition of zooplankton in relation to latitude and across the ridge

Vertically migrating zooplankton act as a link between the surface and the deep sea. Vertical excursions of these organisms may accelerate the downward flux of organic matter through the water column. The extent and importance of vertical migration is affected by the species composition, the vertical distribution of these species, and by physical factors.

4. To investigate species composition and distribution of the benthopelagic and pelagic fauna in the near bottom layer over the ridge.

The near bottom layer is a habitat for a specialised benthopelagic fauna, associated with the seafloor. At the same time true pelagic animals can be advected or migrate into this layer, and interactions between these two components may affect the biological processes near the bottom . The objective 4 will be connected to the MARECO project PN2.

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