Distribution and feeding of Benthosema glaciale in the western Labrador Sea fish-zooplankton interaction and the consequence to calanoid copepod populations

Pepin, P.

Deep Sea Research Part I Oceanographic Research Papers 75: 119-134

2013


DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2013.01.012
Accession: 036768483

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Abstract
This study evaluated the distribution of major calanoid copepods in the western Labrador Sea in relation to that of the myctophid Benthosema glaciale, and investigated patterns of prey composition and feeding periodicity by the latter to assess the potential impact of mesopelagic fish on copepod populations that reside in the deep ocean. Hydroacoustic surveys indicated that B. glaciale and the deep-scattering layer are widely distributed throughout the region with limited evidence of patchiness, with an average abundance of 6 fish m?2 and biomass of 9.3gm?2. There was clear evidence of diurnal variations in feeding activity that was achieved through vertical migration from several hundred meters depths to the surface layer. Benthosema glaciale fed principally on calanoid copepods, with prey size dependent on the length of the fish but the relative variability in prey size was independent of predator length. Average rations were generally less than 1% of body weight per day, and the patterns of diurnal vertical migration by myctophids suggest that individuals fed once every two days rather than daily. The estimated mortality caused by B. glaciale on the calanoid populations, which considers most sources of uncertainty, ranged from 0.002 to 1.8% d?1, with the mid-point of these estimates being ?0.15% d?1, which is well below the estimated mortality rates of 10 20% d?1 based on vertical life tables. From observations from this and other ecosystems, understanding and contrasting the drivers of population dynamics and productivity of calanoid copepods in different deep basins of the North Atlantic will likely require a more comprehensive characterization of the plankton and pelagic and oceanic fish faunas of the epipelagic and mesopelagic zones and their trophic relationships and interactions. The deep-scattering layer was ubiquitous across the Labrador Sea and showed limited patchiness. Calanoid copepods were the principle prey of Benthosema glaciale. The overall impact of B. glaciale on the copepods populations appeared to be modest (<1%/d). Prey size was significantly related to predator length but niche breadth was not. Evacuation rates and patterns of vertical migration indicate low metabolic demands by B. glaciale.