Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 12, pp 2539–2553 | Cite as

Drivers of euphausiid species abundance and numerical abundance in the Atlantic Ocean

  • Tom B. LetessierEmail author
  • Martin J. Cox
  • Andrew S. Brierley
Original Paper


Mid-ocean ridges are common features of the world’s oceans but there is a lack of understanding as to how their presence affects overlying pelagic biota. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is a dominant feature of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, we examined data on euphausiid distribution and abundance arising from several international research programmes and from the continuous plankton recorder. We used a generalized additive model (GAM) framework to explore spatial patterns of variability in euphausiid distribution on, and at either side of, the MAR from 60°N to 55°S in conjunction with variability in a suite of biological, physical and environmental parameters. Euphausiid species abundance peaked in mid-latitudes and was significantly higher on the ridge than in adjacent waters, but the ridge did not influence numerical abundance significantly. Sea surface temperature (SST) was the most important single factor influencing both euphausiid numerical abundance and species abundance. Increases in sea surface height variance, a proxy for mixing, increased the numerical abundance of euphausiids. GAM predictions of variability in species abundance as a function of SST and depth of the mixed layer were consistent with present theories, which suggest that pelagic niche availability is related to the thermal structure of the near surface water: more deeply-mixed water contained higher euphausiid biodiversity. In addition to exposing present distributional patterns, the GAM framework enables responses to potential future and past environmental variability including temperature change to be explored.


Species Abundance Generalize Additive Model Numerical Abundance Species Abundance Data Continuous Plankton Recorder 



We thank the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science for the CPR data, and all the providers of environmental data used in our modelling. We thank the School of Biology at the University of St Andrews, and the United Kingdom Natural Environment Research Council, for funding, and C. Blight for help and expert advice with Geographical Information System software. The images and data used in this study were acquired using the GES-DISC Interactive Online Visualization ANd aNalysis Infrastructure (Giovanni) as part of the NASA’s Goddard Earth Sciences (GES) Data and Information Services Center (DISC).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 25059 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (XLS 90 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (XLS 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom B. Letessier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martin J. Cox
    • 1
  • Andrew S. Brierley
    • 1
  1. 1.Pelagic Ecology Research Group, Scottish Oceans InstituteUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

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