Under-ice habitat important for Antarctic krill

March 8, 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: Major Antarctic study to begin next year

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

Related Stories

Antarctic krill provide carbon sink in Southern Ocean

February 6, 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 ...

Penguins that shun ice still lose big from a warming climate

April 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 ...

Antarctic krill help to fertilize Southern Ocean with iron

July 4, 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 ...

Changes in krill abundance inferred from antarctic fur seal

December 1, 2011

It is possible to know a tree from its fruit, but is it possible to know a prey from its predator? The answer is YES with Antarctic krill and Antarctic fur seals. Scientists of the University of Science and Technology ...

Recommended for you

Mapping the protein universe

October 9, 2015

To understand how life works, figure out the proteins first. DNA is the architect of life, but proteins are the workhorses. After proteins are built using DNA blueprints, they are constantly at work breaking down and building ...

Threat posed by 'pollen thief' bees uncovered

October 9, 2015

A new University of Stirling study has uncovered the secrets of 'pollen thief' bees - which take pollen from flowers but fail to act as effective pollinators - and the threat they pose to certain plant species.

A better way to read the genome

October 9, 2015

UConn researchers have sequenced the RNA of the most complicated gene known in nature, using a hand-held sequencer no bigger than a cell phone.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.