Western North Atlantic (western + north_atlantic)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Reconciling differences in trophic control in mid-latitude marine ecosystems

ECOLOGY LETTERS, Issue 10 2006
Kenneth T. Frank
Abstract The dependence of long-term fishery yields on primary productivity, largely based on cross-system comparisons and without reference to the potential dynamic character of this relationship, has long been considered strong evidence for bottom-up control in marine systems. We examined time series of intensive empirical observations from nine heavily exploited regions in the western North Atlantic and find evidence of spatial variance of trophic control. Top-down control dominated in northern areas, the dynamics evolved from bottom-up to top-down in an intermediate region, and bottom-up control governed the southern areas. A simplified, trophic control diagram was developed accounting for top-down and bottom-up forcing within a larger region whose base state dynamics are bottom-up and can accommodate time-varying dynamics. Species diversity and ocean temperature co-varied, being relatively high in southern areas and lower in the north, mirroring the shifting pattern of trophic control. A combination of compensatory population dynamics and accelerated demographic rates in southern areas seems to account for the greater stability of the predator species complex in this region. [source]

Hypoxia-based habitat compression of tropical pelagic fishes

Abstract Large areas of cold hypoxic water occur as distinct strata in the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) and Atlantic oceans as a result of high productivity initiated by intense nutrient upwelling. We show that this stratum restricts the depth distribution of tropical pelagic marlins, sailfish, and tunas by compressing the acceptable physical habitat into a narrow surface layer. This layer extends downward to a variable boundary defined by a shallow thermocline, often at 25 m, above a barrier of cold hypoxic water. The depth distributions of marlin and sailfish monitored with electronic tags and average dissolved oxygen (DO) and temperature profiles show that this cold hypoxic environment constitutes a lower habitat boundary in the ETP, but not in the western North Atlantic (WNA), where DO is not limiting. Eastern Pacific and eastern Atlantic sailfish are larger than those in WNA, where the hypoxic zone is much deeper or absent. Larger sizes may reflect enhanced foraging opportunities afforded by the closer proximity of predator and prey in compressed habitat, as well as by the higher productivity. The shallow band of acceptable habitat restricts these fishes to a very narrow surface layer and makes them more vulnerable to over-exploitation by surface gears. Predictably, the long-term landings of tropical pelagic tunas from areas of habitat compression have been far greater than in surrounding areas. Many tropical pelagic species in the Atlantic Ocean are currently either fully exploited or overfished and their future status could be quite sensitive to increased fishing pressures, particularly in areas of habitat compression. [source]

Stomach contents of mass-stranded short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) from North Carolina

Vanessa J. Mintzer
Abstract We examined the stomach contents of 27 short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) that mass stranded on the North Carolina coast on 15 January 2005. Eleven whales had prey parts in their forestomachs. We used frequency of occurrence and numerical abundance to assess the relative importance of prey. Brachioteuthis riisei (numerical abundance 28%), an oceanic species, was the most important cephalopod prey, but Taonius pavo (12%) and Histioteuthis reversa (9%) also represented a substantial part of the diet. A large number of otoliths belonging to the fish Scopelogadus beanii were present (25%). These results differ from reports of the stomach contents of short-finned pilot whales from the Pacific coast in which neritic species dominate the diet. Our findings also suggest that there is a considerable difference between the diet of short- and long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) in the western North Atlantic. The latter feed predominantly on the long-finned squid (Loligo pealei) whereas the former feed on deep-water species. Our results indicate the whales fed primarily off the continental shelf prior to stranding. [source]


David W. Laist
Abstract Although collisions with motorized ships are a recognized source of whale mortality, little has been done to compile information on the frequency of their occurrence or contributing factors. We searched historical records and computerized stranding databases for evidence of ship strikes involving great whales (i. e., baleen whales and the sperm whale). Historical records suggest that ship strikes fatal to whales first occurred late in the 1800s as ships began to reach speeds of 13-15 kn, remained infrequent until about 1950, and then increased during the 1950s-1970s as the number and speed of ships increased. Of 11 species known to be hit by ships, fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) are struck most frequently; right whales (Eubalaena glacialis and E. australis), humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), sperm whales (Physeter catodon), and gray whales (Escbricbtius robustus) are hit commonly. In some areas, one-third of all fin whale and right whale strandings appear to involve ship strikes. To assess contributing factors, we compiled descriptions of 58 collisions. They indicate that all sizes and types of vessels can hit whales; most lethal or severe injuries are caused by ships 80 m or longer; whales usually are not seen beforehand or are seen too late to be avoided; and most lethal or severe injuries involve ships travelling 14 kn or faster. Ship strikes can significantly affect small populations of whales, such as northern right whales in the western North Atlantic. In areas where special caution is needed to avoid such events, measures to reduce the vessel speed below 14 kn may be beneficial. [source]

Nuclear and mitochondrial markers reveal distinctiveness of a small population of bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus) in the western North Atlantic

Abstract Small populations at the edge of a species' distribution can represent evolutionary relics left behind after range contractions due to climate change or human exploitation. The distinctiveness and genetic diversity of a small population of bottlenose whales in the Gully, a submarine canyon off Nova Scotia, was quantified by comparison to other North Atlantic populations using 10 microsatellites and mitrochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequences (434 bp). Both markers confirmed the distinctiveness of the Gully (n = 34) from the next nearest population, off Labrador (n = 127; microsatellites ,FST= 0.0243, P < 0.0001; mtDNA ,,ST = 0.0456, P < 0.05). Maximum likelihood microsatellite estimates suggest that less than two individuals per generation move between these areas, refuting the hypothesis of population links through seasonal migration. Both males and females appear to be philopatric, based on significant differentiation at both genomes and similar levels of structuring among the sexes for microsatellites. mtDNA diversity was very low in all populations (h = 0.51, , = 0.14%), a pattern which may be due to selective sweeps associated with this species' extreme deep-diving ecology. Whaling had a substantial impact on bottlenose whale abundance, with over 65 000 animals killed before the hunt ceased in the early 1970s. Genetic diversity was similar among all populations, however, and no signal for bottlenecks was detected, suggesting that the Gully is not a relic of a historically wider distribution. Instead, this unique ecosystem appears to have long provided a stable year-round habitat for a distinct population of bottlenose whales. [source]


Abstract:, Late Quaternary sediments from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Hole 1055B, Carolina Slope, western North Atlantic (3247.041, N, 7617.179, W; 1798 m water depth) were examined for deep-sea ostracod taxonomy. A total of 13 933 specimens were picked from 207 samples and c. 120 species were identified. Among them, 87 species were included and illustrated in this paper. Twenty-eight new species are described. The new species are: Ambocythere sturgio, Argilloecia abba, Argilloecia caju, Argilloecia keigwini, Argilloecia robinwhatleyi, Aversovalva carolinensis, Bythoceratina willemvandenboldi, Bythocythere eugeneschornikovi, Chejudocythere tenuis, Cytheropteron aielloi, Cytheropteron demenocali, Cytheropteron didieae, Cytheropteron richarddinglei, Cytheropteron fugu, Cytheropteron guerneti, Cytheropteron richardbensoni, Eucytherura hazeli, Eucytherura mayressi, Eucytherura namericana, Eucytherura spinicorona, Posacythere hunti, Paracytherois bondi, Pedicythere atroposopetasi, Pedicythere kennettopetasi, Pedicythere klothopetasi, Pedicythere lachesisopetasi, Ruggieriella mcmanusi and Xestoleberis oppoae. Taxonomic revisions of several common species were made to reduce taxonomic uncertainty in the literature. This study provides a robust taxonomic baseline for application to palaeoceanographical reconstruction and biodiversity analyses in the deep and intermediate-depth environments of the North Atlantic Ocean. [source]