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Content archived on 2024-04-19

Investigation of calanus finmarchicus migrations between oceanic and shelf seas off northwest Europe


The aim of the project is to determine the scope for climatically induced spatial and temporal variability in the annual invasion of the northern North Sea shelf waters by the copepod Calanus finmarchicus. This will be achieved by:

- Field surveys of the winter and spring distribution of C. finmarchicus along the NW European continental shelf edge.

- Time series analysis of historical Continuous Plankton Recorder Data.
- Development of a fine resolution 3-dimensional hydrodynamic model of the shelf edge region for forcing of a lagrangian particle tracking model.

- Analysis of the particle tracking model performance under various climatic forcing scenarios.

Background: C. finmarchicus is the dominant herbivorous copepod in the plankton of the northern North Sea during the summer, and is a major food item for many juvenile fish species. During the winter C. finmarchicus is virtually absent from shelf waters, but is present in large numbers as dormant stages at approximately 600 m depth off the shelf edge. In the spring, the dormant stages begin to develop, migrate to the surface waters and are carried onto the shelf where they can reproduce. The routes by which the invasion of the shelf occur seem to be consistent from year to year but the timing may vary according to oceanographic climate conditions, having potential consequences for interannual variability in the development and composition of the North Sea ecosystem. The project will investigate the physical and biological causes of variability in the annual C. finmarchicus invasion.

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Scottish Office Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department
EU contribution
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Victoria Road
AB11 9DB Aberdeen
United Kingdom

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Participants (4)