eCite Digital Repository

Retention of plankton within ocean eddies


Condie, S and Condie, R, Retention of plankton within ocean eddies, Global Ecology and Biogeography, 25, (10) pp. 1264-1277. ISSN 1466-822X (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1111/geb.12485


Aim: Mesoscale ocean eddies (closed circular currents typically 100300 km in diameter) are ubiquitous features of the world's oceans. They form partially isolated environments with distinct physical and chemical conditions capable of supporting and transporting whole plankton communities. The productivity and biodiversity of these communities is ultimately dependent on an eddy's ability to retain planktonic organisms. Our aim was to estimate eddy retention time-scales across a range of oceanic environments and larval behaviours, with implications for both distributions and future changes in plankton communities.

Location: The Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

Methods: A particle-tracking model was forced using ocean currents from a number of validated hydrodynamic models covering environments ranging from shelf seas to the open ocean and equatorial to high-latitude waters. Eddies were seeded with large numbers of particles and their rate of loss from the eddy was used to estimate retention times. The influences of common plankton swimming behaviours were explicitly captured in the model.

Results: Eddy retention times of modelled plankton ranged from 5 to 67 days, with a median of 19 days. Retention times were not correlated with latitude or eddy size. However, plankton residing near the surface of eddies rotating cyclonically (anticlockwise in the Northern Hemisphere) had significantly shorter retention times than those residing in the same eddy at depth, and vice versa for eddies rotating anticyclonically.

Main conclusions: We show that ocean eddies have the potential to retain and support planktonic (and even nektonic) communities over many generations and are likely to enhance larval survival for many invertebrate and fish species. Differences in retention with depth suggest that cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies will support differing plankton communities. If their relative geographical distributions change with global climate, then the relative proportions of diatom-based and dinoflagellate-based communities may also change, with potential implications for higher trophic animals.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:dispersal, larval behaviour, ocean eddies, plankton, retention, vertical migration
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Biological oceanography
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Condie, R (Mr Ryan Condie)
ID Code:116808
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:53
Deposited By:Mathematics and Physics
Deposited On:2017-05-22
Last Modified:2017-10-12

Repository Staff Only: item control page