This collaborative study between DRI (Chris Fritsen), the University of California, Santa Barbara (Langdon Quetin and Robin Ross), and the University of California, San Diego (Maria Vernet) will examine the relationship between sea ice extent along the Antarctic Peninsula and the life history of krill (Euphausia superba), by developing, refining, and linking diagnostic datasets and models of phytoplankton decreases in the fall, phytoplankton biomass incorporation into sea ice, sea ice growth dynamics, sea ice algal production and biomass accumulation, and larval krill energetics, condition, and survival.
Krill is a key species in the food web of the Southern Ocean ecosystem, and one that is intricately involved with seasonal sea ice dynamics. Results from the Southern Ocean experiment of the Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics program (SO GLOBEC) field work as well as historical information on sea ice dynamics and krill recruitment suggest a shift in the paradigm that all pack ice is equally good krill habitat.
SO GLOBEC is a multidisciplinary effort focused on understanding the physical and biological factors that influence growth, reproduction, recruitment and survival of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba). The program uses a multi-trophic level approach that includes the predators and competitors of Antarctic krill, represented by other zooplankton, fish, penguins, seals, and cetaceans. It is currently in a synthesis and modeling phase. This collaborative project is concerned with the lower trophic levels, and will be integrated with other synthesis and modeling studies that deal with grazers, predators, and other higher trophic levels.