Polar Biology

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 333–342 | Cite as

Insights into spatial distribution patterns of early stages of the Antarctic silverfish, Pleuragramma antarctica, in the platelet ice of Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica

  • P. Guidetti
  • L. Ghigliotti
  • M. Vacchi
Original Paper


The Antarctic silverfish, Pleuragramma antarctica, is ecologically important for connecting lower and upper trophic levels within the coastal marine Antarctic food web. In recent decades, populations of silverfish have exhibited a declining trend in some regions of the Antarctic, in particular the western Antarctic Peninsula. It is of paramount importance to elucidate its life history and to characterize the areas that are crucial for the reproduction of the species: spawning, hatching and nursery areas. Presently, the overall available knowledge is scant and spatially restricted. In this study, we assessed the spatial scales of variation in the distribution patterns of eggs and newly hatched larvae, and their vertical distribution within the platelet ice layer underlying fast ice at Terra Nova Bay. We found that (1) distribution patterns of eggs and larvae abundance significantly changed at a spatial scale of kilometers, while they did not at scale of tens of kilometers and hundreds/tens meters, and (2) eggs were not homogeneously distributed under the solid ice; in particular, the egg abundance was highest at −2.5 m within the platelet ice and dramatically declined more in depth. This study thus allowed shed light on distribution patterns of eggs and early-hatched larvae of the Antarctic silverfish. Such information will be useful to better understand the ecological processes possibly producing the patterns we have observed and then identify further reproduction and nursery areas around the Antarctic continent.


Antarctic silverfish Terra Nova Bay Spatial distribution Platelet ice Eggs and larvae 



This work was carried out within the project ‘Vulnerability of polar fishes to climate change: life cycle, habitats and sea-ice relationship of the species P. antarcticum,’ supported by Italian National Programme for Research in Antarctica (PNRA project 2010/A1.11). We wish to thank the entire staff of the Italian Antarctic Base ‘Mario Zucchelli,’ but in particular Davide Riga, Luciano Sartori and Luca De Santis for their invaluable technical/logistical support.


  1. Albertson C, Yi-Lin Yan YL, Titus TA, Pisano E, Vacchi M, Yelick PC, Detrich HW, Postlethwait JH (2010) Molecular pedomorphism underlies craniofacial skeletal evolution in Antarctic notothenioid fishes. BMC Evol Biol 10:4. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-10-4 CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrew NL, Mapstone BD (1987) Sampling and the description of spatial pattern in marine ecology. Oceanogr Mar Biol 25:39–90Google Scholar
  3. Arrigo KR, Thomas DN (2004) Large scale importance of sea ice biology in the Southern Ocean. Antarct Sci 16:471–486. doi: 10.1017/S0954102004002263 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barange M, Bernal M, Cercole M, Cubillos L, De Moor C, Daskalov G, de Oliveira J, Dickey-Collas M, Hill K, Jacobson L, Køster F, Masse J, Nishida H, Ñiquen M, Oozeki Y, Palomera I, Saccardo S, Santojanni A, Serra R, Somarakis S, Stratoudakis Y, van der Lingen C, Uriarte A, Yatsu A (2009) Current trends in the assessment and management of small pelagic fish stocks. In: Checkley D, Roy C, Oozeki Y, Alheit J (eds) Climate change and small pelagic fish stocks. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 191–255Google Scholar
  5. Bottaro M, Oliveri D, Ghigliotti L, Pisano E, Ferrando S, Vacchi M (2009) Insights into the life cycle of the Antarctic silverfish Pleuragramma antarcticum: morphology of two developmental stages. Rev Fish Biol Fisher 19:249–259. doi: 10.1007/s11160-009-9106-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Budillon G, Spezie G (2000) Thermohaline structure and variability in the Terra Nova Bay polynya, Ross Sea. Antarct Sci 12:493–508. doi: 10.1017/S0954102000000572 Google Scholar
  7. Buffoni G, Cappelletti A, Picco P (2002) An investigation of thermohaline circulation in Terra Nova Bay polynya. Antarct Sci 14:83–92. doi: 10.1017/S0954102002000615 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chavez FP, Ryan J, Lluch-Cota SE, Niquen M (2003) From anchovies to sardines and back: multidecadal change in the Pacific Ocean. Science 299:217–221. doi: 10.1126/science.1075880 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Dempsey DE, Langhorne PJ (2012) Geometric properties of platelet ice crystals. Cold Reg Sci Technol 78:1–13. doi: 10.1016/j.coldregions.2012.03.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. DeWitt HH (1970) The character of the midwater fish fauna of the Ross Sea, Antarctica. In: Holdgate MW (ed) Antarctic ecology, vol 1. Academic Press, London, pp 305–314Google Scholar
  11. DeWitt HH, Tyler JC (1960) Fishes of the Stanford Antarctic Biological Research Program (1958–1959). Stanford Ichthyol Bull 7:162–199Google Scholar
  12. DeWitt HH, Heemstra PC, Gon O (1990) Nototheniidae. In: Gon O, Heemstra PC (eds) Fishes of the Southern Ocean. JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology, Grahamstown, pp 279–331Google Scholar
  13. Duhamel G, Hulley PA, Causse R, Koubbi P, Vacchi M, Pruvost P, Vigetta S, Irisson JO, Mormède S, Belchier M, Dettai A, Detrich HW, Gutt J, Jones CD, Kock KH, Lopez Abellan LJ, Van de Putte AP (2014) Biogeographic patterns of fish. In: De Broyer C, Koubbi P (eds) Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean. Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, Cambridge, pp 328–362Google Scholar
  14. Eastman JT (1993) Antarctic fish biology: evolution in an unique environment. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  15. Eastman JT (1997) Phyletic divergence and specialization for pelagic life in the Antarctic Notothenioid fish Pleuragramma antarcticum. Comp Biochem Phys A 118:1095–1101. doi: 10.1016/S0300-9629(97)86798-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eastman JT (2005) The nature of the diversity of Antarctic fishes. Polar Biol 28:93–107. doi: 10.1007/s00300-004-0667-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eschmeyer WN (2014) Catalog of Fishes. Accessed 27 August 2014
  18. Evans CW, Williams DE, Vacchi M, Brimble MA, DeVries AL (2012) Metabolic and behavioural adaptations during early development of the Antarctic silverfish, Pleuragramma antarcticum. Polar Biol 35:891–898. doi: 10.1007/s00300-011-1134-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Faleyeva TI, Gerasimchuk VV (1990) Features of reproduction in the Antarctic sidestripe, Pleuragramma antarcticum (Nototheniidae). J Ichthyol 30:67–79Google Scholar
  20. Ferrando S, Hanchet S, Angiolillo M, Gambardella C, Pisano E, Vacchi M (2010) Insights into the life cycle of the Antarctic Silverfish. Reproduction features of the Ross Sea population. In: Proceedings of international polar year Oslo science conference, 8–12 June 2010, Oslo, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  21. Fuiman LA, Davis RW, Williams TM (2002) Behavior of midwater fishes under Antarctic ice: observations by a predator. Mar Biol 140:815–822. doi: 10.1007/s00227-001-0752-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gerasimchuck VV (1986) Characteristics of Antarctic silverfish, Pleuragramma antarcticum (Nototheniidae), from Olaf-Pruds Bay (Commonwealth Sea, Eastern Antarctica) with notes on the identification of the species. J Ichthyol 26:10–17Google Scholar
  23. Giraldo C, Cherel Y, Vallet C, Mayzaud P, Tavernier E, Moteki M, Hosie G, Koubbi P (2011) Ontogenic changes in the feeding ecology of the early life stages of the Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum) documented by stable isotopes and diet analysis in the Dumont d’Urville Sea (East Antarctica). Polar Sci 5:252–263. doi: 10.1016/j.polar.2011.04.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Granata A, Cubeta A, Gugliemo L, Sidoti O, Greco S, Vacchi M, La Mesa M (2002) Ichthyoplankton abundance and distribution in the Ross Sea during 1987–1996. Polar Biol 25:87–202. doi: 10.1007/s00300-001-0326-y Google Scholar
  25. Guglielmo L, Granata A, Greco S (1998) Distribution and abundance of postlarval and juvenile Pleuragramma antarcticum (Pisces, Nototheniidae) off Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea, Antarctica). Polar Biol 19:37–51. doi: 10.1007/s003000050214 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Guidetti P, Petrillo M, De Benedetto G, Albertelli G (2013) The use of otolith microchemistry to investigate spawning patterns of European anchovy: a case study in the eastern Ligurian Sea (NW Mediterranean). Fish Res 139:1–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hubold G (1984) Spatial distribution of Pleuragramma antarcticum (Pisces: Nototheniidae) near the Filchner-and Larsen ice shelves (Weddell sea/Antarctica). Polar Biol 3:231–236. doi: 10.1007/BF00292628 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hubold G (1990) Seasonal patterns of ichthyoplankton distribution and abundance in the Southern Weddell Sea. In: Kerry KR, Hempel G (eds) Antarctic ecosystems: ecological change and conservation. Springer, Berlin, pp 149–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hubold G, Ekau W (1987) Midwater fish fauna of the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. In: Kullander SO, Fernholm B (eds) Proceedings of the fifth congress of the european ichthyological society. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, pp 391–396Google Scholar
  30. Kellermann A (1987) Food and feeding ecology of postlarval and juvenile Pleuragramma antarcticum (Pisces; Notothenioidei) in the seasonal pack ice zone off the Antarctic Peninsula. Polar Biol 7:307–315. doi: 10.1007/BF00443949 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kellermann A (1989) The larval fish community in the zone of seasonal ice cover and its seasonal and interannual variability. Arch Fischereiweiss 39:89–109. doi: 10.013/epic.12234 Google Scholar
  32. Kellermann A (1991) Eggs and larval drift of the Antarctic fish Notothenia coriiceps. Cybium 15:199–210Google Scholar
  33. Kock KH, Kellermann A (1991) Reproduction in Antarctic notothenioid fish. Antarct Sci 3:125–150. doi: 10.1017/S0954102091000172 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Koubbi P, Hureau JC, Vacchi M, White M (1997) Results of the preliminary survey on the coastal distribution of fish larvae in Adelie Land (Southern Ocean) during January–February 1996. Cybium 21:381–392Google Scholar
  35. Koubbi P, O’Brien C, Loots C, Giraldo C, Smith M, Tavernier E, Vacchi M, Vallet C, Chevallier J, Moteki M (2011) Spatial distribution and inter-annual variations in the size frequency distribution and abundances of Pleuragramma antarcticum larvae in the Dumont d’Urville Sea from 2004 to 2010. Polar Sci 5:225–238. doi: 10.1016/j.polar.2011.02.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kurtz DD, Bromwich DH (1983) Satellite observed behavior of the Terra Nova Bay polynya. J Geophys Res-Oceans 88:9717–9722. doi: 10.1029/JC088iC14p09717 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kurtz DD, Bromwich DH (1985) A recurring, atmospherically forced polynya in Terra Nova Bay. In: Jacobs SS (ed) Oceanology of the Antarctic continental shelf. Antarctic Research Series 43, American Geophysical Union, Washington DC, pp 177–201Google Scholar
  38. La Mesa M, Eastman JT (2012) Antarctic silverfish: life strategies of a key species in the high-Antarctic ecosystem. Fish Fish 13:241–266. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2979.2011.00427.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. La Mesa M, Eastman JT, Vacchi M (2004) The role of notothenioid fish in the food web of the Ross Sea shelf waters: a review. Polar Biol 27:321–338. doi: 10.1007/s00300-004-0599-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Leggett WC, Deblois E (1994) Recruitment in marine fishes: is it regulated by starvation and predation in the egg and larval stages? Ned J Sea Res 32:119–134. doi: 10.1016/0077-7579(94)90036-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Liu Q, Chen DG (1995) Length frequency analysis of Pleuragramma antarcticum, Electrona antarctica, Protomyctophum bolini. Chin J Oceanol Limnol 13:380–384. doi: 10.1007/BF02889475 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Massom RA, Stammerjohn SE (2010) Antarctic sea ice change and variability–Physical and ecological implications. Polar Sci 4:149–186. doi: 10.1016/j.polar.2010.05.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McGuinness MJ, Langhorne P (2006) A platelet puzzle in Antarctica. Proc KSIAM 2006 Annual Meeting, Nov 24–25, Konkuk University, Seoul, KoreaGoogle Scholar
  44. Moline MA, Karnovsky NJ, Brown Z, Divoky GJ, Frazer TK, Jacoby CA, Torres JJ, Fraser WR (2008) High latitude changes in ice dynamics and their impact on polar marine ecosystems. Ann NY Acad Sci 1134:267–319. doi: 10.1196/annals.1439.010 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Morales-Nin B, Garcia MA, Lopez O (1998) Distribution of larval and juvenile Nototheniops larseni and Pleuragramma antarcticum off the Antarctic Peninsula in relation to oceanographic conditions. Cybium 22:69–81Google Scholar
  46. O’Driscoll RL, Macaulay GJ, Gauthier S, Pinkerton M, Hanchet S (2011) Distribution, abundance and acoustic properties of Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum) in the Ross Sea. Deep Sea Res II 58:181–195. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2010.05.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Palomera I, Olivar MP, Salat J, Sabates A, Coll M, Garcia A, Morales-Nin B (2007) Small pelagic fish in the NW Mediterranean Sea: an ecological review. Progr Oceanogr 74:377–396. doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2007.04.012 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Regan CT (1916) Larval and postlarval fishes. British Antarctic (“Terra Nova”) Expedition 1910. Nat Hist Report Zool 1:125–156Google Scholar
  49. Regoli F, Nigro M, Benedetti M, Fattorini D, Gorbi S (2005) Antioxidant efficiency in early life stages of the Antarctic silverfish, Pleuragramma antarcticum: responsiveness to pro-oxidant conditions of platelet ice and chemical exposure. Aquat Toxicol 75:43–52. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2005.07.003 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Schnack-Schiel SB, Dieckmann GS, Kattner G, Thomas DN (2004) Copepods in summer platelet ice in the eastern Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Polar Biol 27:502–506. doi: 10.1007/s00300-004-0613-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Smith IJ, Langhorne PJ, Haskell TG, Joe Trodahl H, Frew R, Ross Vennell M (2001) Platelet ice and the land-fast sea ice of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Ann Glaciol 33:21–27. doi: 10.3189/172756401781818365 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Underwood AJ (1997) Experiments in ecology: Their logical design and interpretations using analysis of variance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 504Google Scholar
  53. Underwood AJ, Chapman MG, Connell SD (2000) Observations in ecology: you can’t make progress on processes without understanding the patterns. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 250:97–115. doi: 10.1016/S0022-0981(00)00181-7 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Vacchi M, La Mesa M, Greco S (1999) Summer distribution and abundance of larval and juvenile fishes in the western Ross Sea. Antarct Sci 11:54–60. doi: 10.1017/S0954102099000085 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Vacchi M, La Mesa M, Dalù M, Macdonald J (2004) Early life stages in the life cycle of Antarctic silverfish, Pleuragramma antarcticum in Terra Nova Bay, Ross Sea. Antarct Sci 16:299–305. doi: 10.1017/s095410200400215 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Vacchi M, DeVries AL, Evans CW, Bottaro M, Ghigliotti L, Cutroneo L, Pisano E (2012a) A nursery area for the Antarctic silverfish Pleuragramma antarcticum at Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea): first estimate of distribution and abundance of eggs and larvae under the seasonal sea-ice. Polar Biol 35:1573–1585. doi: 10.1007/s00300-012-1199-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Vacchi M, Koubbi P, Ghigliotti L, Pisano E (2012b) Sea-ice interactions with polar fish focus on the antarctic silverfish life history. In: Verde C, di Prisco G (eds) Adaptation and evolution in marine environments, from pole to pole series. Springer, Berlin, pp 51–73. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-27352-0-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van Woert ML (1999) Wintertime dynamics of the Terra Nova Bay polynya. J Geophys Res 104:1169–7753. doi: 10.1029/1999JC900003 Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculté des Sciences, EA 4228 ECOMERSUniversité Nice Sophia-AntipolisNice Cedex 2France
  2. 2.CoNISMa (National Inter-University Consortium of Marine Sciences)RomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of Earth, Environmental and Life Sciences (DISTAV)University of GenoaGenoaItaly
  4. 4.ISPRA c/o ISMAR (Institute of Marine Sciences) CNR GenoaGenoaItaly

Personalised recommendations