The role of internal waves in larval fish interactions with potential predators and prey

Adam T. Greer, Robert K. Cowen, Cedric M. Guigand, Jonathan A. Hare, Dorothy Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Tidally driven internal wave packets in coastal environments have the potential to influence patchiness of larval fishes, prey, and gelatinous predators. We used the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS) to synoptically sample larval fishes, copepods, and planktonic predators (ctenophores, hydromedusae, chaetognaths, and polychaetes) across these predictable features in the summer near Stellwagen Bank, Massachusetts, USA. Full water column profiles and fixed depth transects (~10. m depth) were used to quantify vertical and horizontal components of the fish and invertebrate distributions during stable and vertically mixed conditions associated with tidally generated internal waves. Larval fishes, consisting mostly of Urophycis spp., Merluccius bilinearis, and Labridae, were concentrated near the surface, with larger sizes generally occupying greater depths. During stable water column conditions, copepods formed a near surface thin layer several meters above the chlorophyll-a maximum that was absent when internal waves were propagating. In contrast, ctenophores and other predators were much more abundant at depth, but concentrations near 10. m increased immediately after the internal hydraulic jump mixed the water column. During the propagation of internal waves, the fine-scale abundance of larval fishes was more correlated with the abundance of gelatinous predators and less correlated with copepods compared to the stable conditions. Vertical oscillations caused by the internal hydraulic jump can disperse patches of zooplankton and force surface dwelling larval fishes into deeper water where probability of predator contact is increased, creating conditions potentially less favorable for larval fish growth and survival on short time scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-61
Number of pages15
JournalProgress in Oceanography
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Geology


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