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Free Content Diel vertical migration in stratified tidal flows: Implications for plankton dispersal

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This paper examines the kinematics of the horizontal motion induced in marine plankton which undergo diel vertical migration (DVM) in oscillatory tidal currents with depth varying amplitude and phase. Particular attention is paid to the transport-producing effects of DVM in shallow, stratified seas where frictional decoupling associated with a reduction in the vertical eddy viscosity in the pycnocline can cause abrupt changes in tidal phase across the pycnocline. In M2-period tidal currents, horizontal displacements of up to 5 upper layer tidal excursions can be produced over a 15-day cycle and in S2-period currents, net unidirectional horizontal transport at a rate of up to 1 tidal excursion per tidal cycle is possible. The transport producing effects of DVM in spatially varying tidal fields are illustrated by the case of the northwest European shelf and with the example of an idealized stratified gulf. The results have potentially far reaching consequences since marine zooplankton and phyotplankton capable of DVM are often concentrated in the pycnocline and, for those organisms with swimming behavior unaffected by the temperature/salinity gradient at the pycnocline, vertical excursions of just a few meters would be sufficient to allow significant horizontal transport.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1998

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, 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. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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