SAMS news room

Antarctic krill migrations

A new paper coauthored by Mike Burrows of SAMS describes the behaviour of krill in the Antarctic.


We model a summer snapshot of the behavior of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) during advection across the Scotia Sea. Individual krill respond to a changing landscape of predation risk and food availability by migrating vertically in the water column and choosing an average distance to their nearest neighbor (swarm density). We determine the optimal behavior of 30, 40 and 50 mm krill using a state-dependent life history model where individuals move along 30-day segments of hypothetical journey tracks in three different regions of the Scotia Sea, with the tracks extracted from a combination of circulation models and surface drifter data. Food availability is based on satellite data for surface Chl a with additional heterotrophic and detritus food components, and mortality is parameterized with respect to distance from shore, daylight and krill swarming-behavior. We predict that proximity to predator colonies has a distinct effect on behavior, particularly on depth choice when food-availability is low. Observations made during an acoustic survey of the region found swarms to be deeper at the Antarctic Peninsula compared with South Georgia, in line with model predictions. Our predictions are also consistent with observations that swarm density changes little on a logarithmic scale across the region. We show that being able to change behavior on short time scales has distinct advantages to krill.

Cresswell KA, Tarling GA, Thorpe SE, Burrows MT, Wiedenmann J, Mangel M (2009) Diel vertical migration of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is flexible during advection across the Scotia Sea. J Plankton Res. in press

< Previous|Next >