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A fundamental goal of Biological Oceanography is to understand how underlying biological-physical interactions determine abundance of marine organisms. For animal populations, it is well known that factors controlling survival during early life stages (i.e., recruitment) are strong determinants of adult population size, but understanding these processes has been difficult due to model and data limitations.Recent advances in numerical modeling, together with new 3D data sets, provide a unique opportunity to study in detail biological-physical processes controlling zooplankton population size. We propose to use an existing state-of-the-art biological/physical numerical model (FVCOM) together with the recently-processed large 3D data set from the Georges Bank GLOBEC program to conduct idealized and realistic numerical experiments that explore the detailed mechanisms controlling seasonal evolution of spatial patterns in dominant zooplankton species on Georges Bank. We will examine a series of hypotheses that address how dominant copepod species populations are maintained on the bank, including local dynamics and large-scale forcing. Specifically we will determine whether the observed characteristic seasonal-spatial pattern of each species (long-term and inter-annual) is predictable from the interaction between its characteristic life-history traits and physical transport. The extent to which the copepod populations are controlled by food-availability (bottom-up) or predation (top-down) processes will be examined, including the influence of Labrador Slope Water (NAO-dependent) on nutrient influx through the northeast channel and subsequent upwelling and biological enhancement on the bank. Self-sustainability of each species population on the bank itself and in the Gulf of Maine will be studied by controlling immigration from specific source regions. Large-scale forcing including NAO and catastrophic global warming (e.g. complete polar ice melt) will be examined by forcing the model at the boundaries, using scenarios based on basin-scale data and from concurrent basin-scale modeling efforts. 


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Last updated March 27, 2007
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