Diel vertical migration promotes zooplankton horizontal patchiness

Chen, Bingzhang and Masunaga, Eiji and Smith, Sherwood Lan and Yamazaki, Hidekatsu (2020) Diel vertical migration promotes zooplankton horizontal patchiness. Journal of Oceanography. (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10872-020-00564-4)

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Spatial patchiness of plankton enhances fishery production and carbon export in the ocean. While diel vertical migration (DVM) has been identified as an important factor contributing to vertical patchiness, its effect on horizontal patchiness has never been investigated. We use a simple individual based zooplankton model to examine the effect of DVM on the horizontal patchiness of four zooplankton groups with differing DVM patterns in a two-dimensional ocean circulation model. We find that zooplankton horizontal patchiness can be induced by two mechanisms: 1) in stratified waters, DVM can synchronize zooplankton vertical positions with the horizontal current velocities that drive them, resulting in horizontal patchiness; and 2) migrating zooplankton tend to aggregate in deep waters when they encounter sea bottom. Due to these mechanisms, zooplankton horizontal patchiness may be ubiquitous in the ocean, enhancing secondary production and fisheries.