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Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 1, pp 257–269 | Cite as

Seasonal variations in the growth rates of euphausiids (Thysanoessa inermis, T. spinifera, and Euphausia pacifica) from the northern Gulf of Alaska

  • Alexei I. Pinchuk
  • Russell R. Hopcroft
Research Article

Abstract

The euphausiids Thysanoessa inermis (Kroyer 1846), Thysanoessa spinifera (Holmes 1900), and Euphausia pacifica (Hansen 1911) are key pelagic grazers and also important prey for many commercial fish species in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). To understand the role of the euphausiids in material flows in this ecosystem their growth rates were examined using the instantaneous growth rate (IGR) technique on the northern GOA shelf from March through October in 2001–2004. The highest mean molting increments (over 5% of uropod length increase per molt) were observed during the phytoplankton bloom on the inner shelf in late spring for coastal T. inermis, and on the outer shelf in summer for T. spinifera and more oceanic E. pacifica, suggesting tight coupling with food availability. The molting rates were higher in summer and lower in spring, for all species and were strongly influenced by temperature. Mean inter-molt periods calculated from the molting rates, ranged from 11 days at 5°C to 6 days at 8°C, and were in agreement with those measured directly during long-term laboratory incubations. Growth rate estimates depended on euphausiid size, and were close to 0 in early spring, reaching maximum values in May (0.123 mm day−1 or 0.023 day−1 for T. inermis) and July (0.091 mm day−1 or 0.031 day−1 for T. spinifera). The growth rates for E. pacifica remained below 0.07 mm day−1 (0.016 day−1) throughout the season. The relationship between T. inermis weight specific growth rate (adjusted to 5°C) and ambient chlorophyll-a concentration fit a Michaelis–Menten curve (r2 = 0.48) with food saturated growth rate of 0.032 day−1 with half saturation occurring at 1.65 mg chl-a m−3, but such relationships were not significant for T. spinifera or E. pacifica.

Keywords

Growth Increment Spring Bloom Carapace Length Antarctic Krill Instantaneous Growth Rate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was conducted on the RV Alpha Helix with technical support from the captain, crew, and ship’s technicians. We thank all scientists who participated in the cruises for assistance in the field, and staff at the Seward Marine Center for providing a supportive work environment. Dr. A. J. Paul provided the data on euphausiid dry weights. We thank Dr. K. O. Coyle and Dr. E. A. Pakhomov for valuable discussions and comments on the manuscript. This is contribution number 317 of the US GLOBEC program, jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under NSF Grant OCE-0105236. The experiments comply with the current laws of the USA.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alaska SeaLife CenterUniversity of Alaska FairbanksSewardUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA

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