Journal Article

Long-term, predation-based control of a central-west North Sea zooplankton community

Robin A Clark, Chris L.J Frid and Kirsty R Nicholas

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 2, pages 187-197
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Long-term, predation-based control of a central-west North Sea zooplankton community

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Long-term monitoring of the zooplankton community at a station 5.5 miles from the English coast in the central-west North Sea has been performed since 1968. Analyses of these data have revealed an inverse relationship between annual total zooplankton abundance and the position of the Gulf Stream North Wall (GSNW). This long-term relationship is opposite to the long-term positive association observed between the GSNW and total zooplankton abundances throughout most of the oceanic NE Atlantic region and the northern and central North Sea using Continuous Plankton Recorder data.

This study investigates the mechanism behind the inverse relationship with the GSNW, focussing on the importance of zooplankton predators in influencing long-term changes in the zooplankton community of the central-west North Sea. The results suggest that the dominant zooplankton predator Sagitta elegans plays a key role in mediating spring copepod population growth rates and thus their maximum and overall productivity during any one particular year. In turn, the abundance of Sagitta during the spring appears to be related to climatic factors. The implications of this on the zooplankton community are discussed.

Keywords: zooplankton community; North Sea; long-term trends; top-down control; climatic forcing

Journal Article.  5647 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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