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Free Content The concentrating of organisms at fronts: A cold-water fish and a warm-core Gulf Stream ring

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Net hauls made in and around a warm-core Gulf Stream ring in April and June 1982 suggest a concentrating of the mesopelagic fish Benthosema glaciale (family Myctophidae) in the frontal zone at the east edge of the ring. In April, Benthosema was found in very small numbers in the two-month old ring, as was to be expected from the subpolar-temperate distribution of this fish and the warm-water origin and age of the ring. By June, age-0 fish had been recruited to the population susceptible to capture by the midwater trawl. These young fish were about five times as abundant at the frontal zone of the ring and about twice as abundant in the ring center as in the adjacent Slope Water. It is proposed that the increased abundance at the ring front results from a concentrating of the original Slope Water population by convergence. The increase of B. glaciale in the center of the ring may be associated with the inwardly spiralling streamers observed in satellite images.

A simple advection/diffusion model for both the fish and a passive tracer of the fluid is used to consider a mechanism that might have concentrated the fish at the ring edge. It is assumed that the fish can counter the vertical flow in order to maintain their preferred depth. Swimming in the horizontal is assumed to be random. The result of this behavior is that the fish and the passive tracer are affected differently in flow fields such as those in rings. Solutions to the model equations lead to the conclusion that the abundance of fish at the ring front can be accounted for by convergence. The model and the divergence pattern in the ring, calculated from hydrographic data, show the time necessary to effect the hundred-fold increase in abundance that was observed in the ring front between April and June to be on the order of two weeks to a month. We suggest that the concentrating mechanism described is widely applicable to a variety of frontal phenomena and to a variety of planktonic plants and animals.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 1985

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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