Under-ice habitat important for Antarctic krill

Mar 08, 2012 By Jan Andries van Franeker

The importance of the under-ice habitat for Antarctic krill was probably under-estimated in the past and emphasise the susceptibility of this ecological key species to changes in the sea ice habitat induced by climate warming. This was the main conclusion of Antarctic research of IMARES, part of Wageningen UR, published on 23rd February 2012 in the online journal PLoS ONE.

It summarises five years of IMARES research in the Antarctic Ocean with a newly developed under-ice net: “The association of Antarctic krill Euphausia superba with the under-ice habitat”.

The shrimp-like Antarctic krill is an ecological key species in the Antarctic ecosystem, and an increasingly targeted fisheries resource. constitutes an important foraging ground for Antarctic krill, because it can harbor substantial amounts of algae and other micro-organism in its structure. The underside of the ice where krill graze, however, has so far been difficult to access for scientific sampling.

By using Surface and Under-Ice Trawls (SUIT), IMARES researchers and their international partners attempted to overcome such constraints during three expeditions in the ice-covered Antarctic Ocean. Their study presents the first geographically wide-ranging evidence of the distribution of Antarctic krill directly under sea ice. The results indicate that Antarctic krill are attracted to the ice-underside both during summer and winter. Comparison with results acquired with deeper fishing nets commonly used for biomass assessments indicated that a large proportion of the krill population resided directly under the ice, where it was out of reach of these nets.

Explore further: Man 'expelled from Croatia for punching monk seal'

More information: The association of Antarctic krill Euphausia superba with the under-ice habitat. Flores, H., et al.  2012. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31775. 

Provided by Wageningen University

1 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Penguins that shun ice still lose big from a warming climate

Apr 11, 2011

Fluctuations in penguin populations in the Antarctic are linked more strongly to the availability of their primary food source than to changes in their habitats, according to a new study published online today in the Proceedings of ...

Antarctic krill help to fertilize Southern Ocean with iron

Jul 04, 2011

A new discovery reveals that the shrimp-like creature at the heart of the Antarctic food chain could play a key role in fertilising the Southern Ocean with iron – stimulating the growth of phytoplankton (microscopic ...

Antarctic krill provide carbon sink in Southern Ocean

Feb 06, 2006

New research on Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a shrimp-like animal at the heart of the Southern Ocean food chain, reveals behaviour that shows that they absorb and transfer more carbon from the Earth’s surface than ...

Recommended for you

Invasive lionfish likely safe to eat after all

5 hours ago

Scientists have learned that recent fears of invasive lionfish causing fish poisoning may be unfounded. If so, current efforts to control lionfish by fishing derbies and targeted fisheries may remain the ...

User comments : 0