Acoustic Assessment of Southern Ocean Salps and Their Ecosystem Impact
The importance of gelatinous zooplankton in marine systems worldwide is increasing. In Southern Ocean, increasing salp densities could have a detrimental effect on higher predators, including penguins, fur seals, and baleen whales. The proposed research is a methods-develoment project that will improve the capability to indirectly assess abundances and distributions of salps in the Southern Ocean through acoustic surveys. Hydrographic, net tow, and acoustic backscatter data will be collected in the waters surrounding the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic peninsula, where both krill and salps are found and compete for food. Shipboard experimental manipulations and measurements will lead to improved techniques for assessment of salp biomass acoustically. Experiments will focus on material properties (density and sound speed), size and shape of salps, as well as how these physical properties will vary with the salp's environment, feeding rate, and reproductive status. In the field, volume backscattering data from an acoustic echosounder will be collected at the same locations as the net tows to enable comparison of net and acoustic estimates of salp abundance. A physics-based scattering model for salps will be developed and validated, to determine if multiple acoustic frequencies can be used to discriminate between scattering associated with krill swarms and that from salp blooms. During the same period as the Antarctic field work, a parallel outreach and education study will be undertaken in Long Island, New York examining local gelatinous zooplankton. This study will enable project participants to learn and practice research procedures and methods before traveling to Antarctica; provide a comparison time-series that will be used for educational purposes; and include many more students and teachers in the research project than would be able to participate in the Antarctic field component.
Data Management Plan
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Platforms and Instruments
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