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Biological Oceanography

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  • A compilation of existing literature on the characteristics of Southern Ocean diatom species.

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    Water samples collected on the RV Investigator Transit voyage IN2018_T01 were analysed for concentration of chlorophyll a.

  • Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) have a keystone role in the Southern Ocean, as the primary prey of Antarctic predators. Any decreases in krill abundance could result in a major ecological regime shift, but there is currently limited information on how climate change may affect krill. Increasing anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are causing ocean acidification, as absorption of atmospheric CO2 in seawater alters ocean chemistry. Ocean acidification increases mortality and negatively affects physiological functioning in some marine invertebrates, and is predicted to occur most rapidly at high latitudes. Here we show that, in the laboratory, adult krill are able to survive, grow, store fat, mature, and maintain respiration rates when exposed to near-future ocean acidification (1000 – 2000 μatm pCO2) for one year. Despite differences in seawater pCO2 incubation conditions, adult krill are able to actively maintain the acid-base balance of their body fluids in near-future pCO2, which enhances their resilience to ocean acidification.

  • Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) are a keystone species in the Southern Ocean, but little is known about how they will respond to climate change. Ocean acidification, caused by sequestration of carbon dioxide into ocean surface waters (pCO2), is known to alter the lipid biochemistry of some organisms. This can have cascading effects up the food chain. In a year-long laboratory experiment adult krill were exposed to ambient seawater pCO2 levels (400 μatm), elevated pCO2 levels that mimicked near-future ocean acidification (1000, 1500 and 2000 μatm) and an extreme pCO2 level (4000 μatm). The laboratory light regime mimicked the seasonal Southern Ocean photoperiod and krill received a constant food supply. Total lipid mass (mg g -1 DM) of adult krill was unaffected by near-future levels of seawater pCO2. Fatty acid composition (%) and fatty acid ratios associated with immune responses and cell membrane fluidity were also unaffected by near-future pCO2, apart from an increase in 18:3n-3/18:2n-6 ratios in krill in 1500 μatm pCO2 in winter and spring. Extreme pCO2 had no effect on krill lipid biochemistry during summer. During winter and spring, krill in extreme pCO2 had elevated levels of omega-6 fatty acids (up to 1.2% increase in 18:2n-6, up to 0.8% increase in 20:4n-6 and lower 18:3n-3/18:2n-6 and 20:5n-3/20:4n-6 ratios), and showed evidence of increased membrane fluidity (up to three-fold increase in phospholipid/sterol ratios). These results indicate that the lipid biochemistry of adult krill is robust to near-future ocean acidification.

  • Collection of processed BGC-Argo float profiles, used to calculate phytoplankton phenology from chlorophyll, phytoplankton carbon and nitrate.

  • We compare the formulation and emergent dynamics of 11 CMIP6 IPCC marine biogeochemical models. We find that the largest source of uncertainty across model simulations of marine carbon cycling is grazing pressure (i.e. the phytoplankton specific loss rate to grazing). Variability in grazing pressure is driven by large differences in zooplankton specific grazing rates, which are not sufficiently compensated for by offsetting differences in zooplankton specific mortality rates. Models instead must tune the turnover rate of the phytoplankton population to balance large differences in top-down grazing pressure and constrain net primary production. We then run a controlled sensitivity experiment in a global, coupled ocean-biogeochemistry model to test the sensitivity of marine carbon cycling to this uncertainty and find that even when tuned to identical net primary production, export and secondary production remain extremely sensitive to grazing, likely biasing predictions of future climate states and food security.

  • During the RV Investigator Eddy voyage (IN2016_V02), we sampled a mesoscale cyclonic and anticyclonic eddy in the Southern Ocean south to Tasmania. We have collected water samples to analyse concentration of phytoplankton biomass and nutrients.

  • These data were collected on Southern Surveyor transit voyage SS2013_T01 from Sydney to Hobart in February 2013. The voyage was a teaching voyage as part of KSA724. Masters students participated in the collection of standard oceanographic data, focusing on eddies of the East Australian Current. This dataset includes for reference the nutrient and hydrography bottle data as produced by the Marine National Facility, as well as the fluorometrically determined extracted chlorophyll concentration

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    Fatty acid analysis is a powerful tool in food web research for estimating dietary sources in marine predators. However, the utility of fatty acids as dietary indicators from whole lipid samples, rather than from separate lipid classes, has been questioned. Samples are often collected at a single time point, precluding seasonal dietary comparisons. We investigated variations in the fatty acid composition of structural (phospholipids) and storage lipids (triacylglycerols) of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) using fisheries samples obtained over one year. Seasonal variation was observed in fatty acid biomarkers within triacylglycerol and phospholipid fractions of krill. Fatty acids in krill triacylglycerols (thought to better represent recent diet), reflected omnivorous feeding with highest percentages of flagellate biomarkers (18:4n-3) in summer, and diatom biomarkers (16:1n-7c) in autumn, winter and spring. Carnivory biomarkers (∑ 20:1 + 22:1 and 18:1n-9c/18:1n-7c) in krill were greater in autumn. Phospholipid fatty acids were less variable and higher in 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3, which are essential components of cell membranes. Sterol composition did not yield detailed dietary information, but percentages of the major krill sterol, cholesterol, were significantly higher in winter and spring compared with summer and autumn. Unexpectedly, 18:4n-3 and copepod markers ∑ 20:1 + 22:1 were not strongly associated with the triacylglycerol fraction during some seasons. Krill may mobilise 18:4n-3 to phospholipids for conversion to long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which would have implications for its role as a dietary biomarker. For the first time, we demonstrate the dynamic seasonal relationship between specific biomarkers and krill lipid classes.

  • Mesozooplankton community composition and structure were examined throughout the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Huon Estuary and North West Bay, Tasmania, from November 2004 to October 2005, the data represented by this record was collected on the 05/04/2005. The composition of the mesozooplankton community was typical of inshore, temperate marine habitats, with seasonally higher abundance in summer and autumn and lower numbers in winter and spring. Copepods were the largest contributors to total abundance across all seasons and stations, while cladocerans and appendicularians were proportionally abundant in spring and summer. The faecal pellets of these three main groups, along with those of krill and amphipods, also contributed significantly to material recovered from sediment traps. Meroplanktonic larvae of benthic animals showed short-term peaks in abundance and were often absent from the water column for long periods. Spatially, North West Bay and the Channel had a higher representation of typically marine species, including Calanus australis and Labidocera cervi, while truly estuarine species, such as the copepod Gladioferens pectinatus, were more important in the Huon Estuary.