Drivers of euphausiid species abundance and numerical abundance in the Atlantic Ocean
Biomedical and Life Sciences
Mid-ocean ridges are common features of the world’s oceans but there is a lack of understanding as to how their presence affects overlying pelagic biota. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is a dominant feature of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, we examined data on euphausiid distribution and abundance arising from several international research programmes and from the continuous plankton recorder. We used a generalized additive model (GAM) framework to explore spatial patterns of variability in euphausiid distribution on, and at either side of, the MAR from 60°N to 55°S in conjunction with variability in a suite of biological, physical and environmental parameters. Euphausiid species abundance peaked in mid-latitudes and was significantly higher on the ridge than in adjacent waters, but the ridge did not influence numerical abundance significantly. Sea surface temperature (SST) was the most important single factor influencing both euphausiid numerical abundance and species abundance. Increases in sea surface height variance, a proxy for mixing, increased the numerical abundance of euphausiids. GAM predictions of variability in species abundance as a function of SST and depth of the mixed layer were consistent with present theories, which suggest that pelagic niche availability is related to the thermal structure of the near surface water: more deeply-mixed water contained higher euphausiid biodiversity. In addition to exposing present distributional patterns, the GAM framework enables responses to potential future and past environmental variability including temperature change to be explored.