|Summer at-sea distribution of little auks Alle alle and harp seals Pagophilus (Phoca) groenlandica in the Fram Strait and the Greenland Sea: impact of small-scale hydrological events|
|Joiris, C.R.; Falck, E. (2011). Summer at-sea distribution of little auks Alle alle and harp seals Pagophilus (Phoca) groenlandica in the Fram Strait and the Greenland Sea: impact of small-scale hydrological events. Polar Biol. 34(4): 541-548. dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00300-010-0910-0|
|In: Polar Biology. Springer-Verlag: Berlin. ISSN 0722-4060, more|
Fronts; Ice edge; Oceanic eddies; Alle alle (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Pagophilus groenlandicus (Erxleben, 1777) [WoRMS]; ANE, Greenland Sea [gazetteer]; PNE, Fram Strait; Marine
Among the most numerous seabird and pinniped species of the Fram Strait and the Greenland Sea, little auks Alle alle and harp seals Pagophila (Phoca) groenlandica are very abundant in the mixed Polar/Arctic Waters at the front between the two water masses. This must reflect the presence of very high concentrations of their food, Arctic zooplankton and nekton, massively attracting their predators. Such a high biological production seems to be depending on new primary production based on upwelling and high nutrient concentration. This usually takes place at the ice edge (e.g. July 2005), but hydrological conditions such as eddies can modify its position, east of the front in open water as caused by a subsurface eddy (August 2005), or in ice-covered areas if westerly winds push the pack ice to the east, eventually covering an eddy and causing very high concentrations of little auks and harp seals (July 2008). On the other hand, a dramatic decrease of pack ice coverage can move this water mass farther north and west, making it inaccessible to little auks during their breeding season, and apparently causing breeding failure in Jan Mayen in July 2005. In future years, if a much stronger diminution in sea ice coverage will take place, similar to the retreat in 2005 and 2007, the failure might affect the whole Spitsbergen population, as well as other seabird species feeding mainly at the ice edge.