Free Content Formation of Micropatches by Zooplankton-Driven Microturbulences

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The distribution and behavior of tintinnids Stenosernella nucula have been measured in situ within a microlayer formed by 39 million individuals⋅liter–1 with an optical particle counting- and imaging-system. The parallel propulsions of the many animals add up and drive strong downwelling water currents. Preliminary results for swimming-speeds, -directions and organism-distributions are presented. Probably due to gyrotaxis (Kessler, 1985, 1986) or some unknown bio/physical processes the organisms are focused into their self-generated velocity profile. Similar phenomena have been described for very dense plankton cultures as “bioconvection” (Childress et al., 1975a, 1975b; Platt, 1961; Plesset and Winet, 1974; Plesset et al., 1975). The micropatches are 2–4 mm wide and 8–340 mm deep with organism concentrations up to 215 million tintinnids⋅liter–1. The flows form small convection cells similar to Langmuir- or Benard-cells with distances between the patches of 8–30 mm. At the edge of the downwelling areas water velocity increases from near zero to 2–3 mm per s over a vertical distance of less than 1 mm resulting in considerable shear. Some ecological consequences of these microturbulences and microdistributions for predator-prey relationships and particle transports in eutrophic estuaries are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1993

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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