Mesoscale variability in the habitat of the Humboldt Current krill, spring 2007

Ramiro Riquelme-Bugueño, Marco Correa-Ramírez, Rubén Escribano, Sergio Núñez, Samuel Hormazábal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Mesoscale eddies are prominent structures in the world's oceans generating a high degree of spatial and temporal heterogeneity that influences zooplankton distribution. Euphausiids (krill) are a key zooplankton group mainly inhabiting coastal upwelling areas where high productivity, advection, and eddy kinetic energy (EKE) play pivotal roles in the distribution and structure of zooplankton. We analyzed the spatial distribution of the Humboldt Current krill, Euphausia mucronata, in relation to environmental variability and mesoscale circulation during the 2007 austral spring. Using net-based zooplankton samples, remotely sensed environmental conditions, multivariate analysis, and generalized additive models, we described and tested the effect of oceanographic variability and mesoscale eddies on E. mucronata abundance and biomass. E. mucronata was significantly more abundant in coastal (97%) than oceanic habitats, and more abundant in cyclonic cores (mean: 76 indiv. m-2) than in surrounding waters (mean: 13-29 indiv. m-2). Abundance correlated to current and EKE fields at >10-20 cm s-1 and >50-200 cm2 s-2, respectively, and biomass correlated negatively to sea level anomaly and positively to alongshore winds. Krill abundance and biomass were also strongly coupled to both eddy dynamics and the coastal upwelling regime in spring 2007. Mesoscale eddies may doubly influence the E. mucronata population dynamic by retaining krill within them and, by advection from coastal to oligotrophic regions. Key Points: Eddy kinetic energy field provides strong heterogeneity to krill habitat Cyclonic cores concentrate higher krill abundance than their surrounding waters Eddy circulation and coastal upwelling impact the krill dynamics

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2769-2783
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Humboldt Current system
  • coastal upwelling
  • eddy kinetic energy
  • euphausiids
  • mesoscale eddies


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