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Impacts of hypoxia on the structure and processes in the pelagic community (zooplankton, macro-invertebrates and fish)

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Author(s): W. Ekau | H. Auel | H.-O. Pörtner | D. Gilbert

Journal: Biogeosciences Discussions
ISSN 1810-6277

Volume: 6;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 5073;
Date: 2009;
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ABSTRACT
Dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration in the water column is an environmental parameter that is crucial for the successful development of many pelagic organisms. Hypoxia tolerance and threshold values are species- and stage-specific and can vary enormously. While some fish species may suffer from oxygen values of less than 3 ml L−1 and show impact on growth, development and behaviour, other organisms such as euphausiids may survive DO levels as low as 0.1 ml L−1. A change in the average or the minimum or maximum DO in an area may have significant impacts on the survival of certain species and hence on the species composition in the ecosystem with consequent changes in trophic pathways and productivity. Evidence of the deleterious effects of oxygen depletion on species of the pelagic realm is scarce, particularly in terms of the effect of low oxygen on development, recruitment and patterns of migration and distribution. While planktonic organisms have to cope with different DOs and find adaptive mechanisms, nektonic species may avoid areas of inconvenient DO and develop adapted migrational strategies. Planktonic organisms may only be able to escape vertically, above or beneath the Oxygen Minimum Zone (OMZ). In shallow areas only the surface layer can serve as a refuge, in deep waters many organisms have developed vertical migration strategies to use, pass and cope with the OMZ. This paper elucidates the role of DO for different taxa in the pelagic realm and the consequences of low oxygen for foodweb structure and system productivity.

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Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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