Temporal and spatial variability of zooplankton on the Faroe shelf in spring 1997-2016

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Zooplankton availability during spring and summer determines the growth and survival of first-feeding fish larvae, and thus impacts the recruitment to both fish prey species and commercial fish stocks. On the Faroe shelf, however, the relative importance of oceanic versus neritic zooplankton species has hitherto not been well understood. In this study, spatio-temporal variability in zooplankton community structure and size spectra on the Faroe shelf is investigated using observations from late April during the period 1997–2016. The main objective was to explore which environmental variables influence the zooplankton community structure in early spring. The zooplankton community in the permanently well mixed central shelf inside the tidal front consists of a mixture of neritic, cosmopolitan and oceanic species. In this region, redundancy analyses showed that chlorophyll concentration had a positive effect on abundance of neritic copepods and meroplankton as well as all zooplankton < 1.2 mm. The abundance variability of these species shows increased production around 2000 and 2008–2009. The highest zooplankton abundance, mainly consisting of Calanus finmarchicus, is however observed off-shore from the tidal front, especially on the western side of the Faroe Plateau. A shift in C. finmarchicus phenology occurred around 2007, resulting in earlier reproduction of this species, and this variability could not be explained by the employed regional environmental parameters. Our results indicate that the Faroe shelf biological production is more dependent on the local primary production and neritic zooplankton species than on the large oceanic C. finmarchicus stock.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-38
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Marine Systems
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Zooplankton
  • ZooImage
  • Temperature
  • Spring
  • Faroe shelf
  • Chl


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