Nekton adaptations & communities Defense and Camouflage Large size: Most have few predators Camouflage: Cryptic Body Shape (alteration of body shape)
Development of a ventral keel (median longitudinal ventral ridge) to the body of nektonic fishes (helps to eliminate a conspicuous shadow on the belly of the animal when viewed from below)
Cryptic Coloration: a) Countershading-Dark blue or green color on dorsal surfaces to match blueish or greenish color of lighted upper waters of the Ocean; white or silver color on the ventral surface b) Complex color patterns (e.g. in Porpoises) with irregular bands of light & dark that mimic pattern of waveroughened surface waters.
Diagram Showing how Keel on the ventral surface of an animal eliminates the dark shadow normally cast downward by an unkeeled animal Countershading: Halibut
Adaptations to avoid being prey Speed, poisonous secretions, mimicry of other poisonous or distasteful species, transparency Schooling
Many individuals maneuver as if one Safety in numbers Appears larger Movements confusing to predator Sensory Systems
Are well developed in nekton Lateral Line System in Fishes: rows of tubes open to the surface; contain sensory pits sensitive to pressure changes in water Ampullae of Lorenzini in Sharks & Rays: Sensitive to minute electric currents in water; use electroreception
to find prey Geomagnetic sensory system in marine mammals for long-distance navigation Eyes: Well developed Olfactory senses (sense chemicals) Hearing senses (Inner Ear in fishes)
Adaptations for Feeding Structure Speed vs. cruising vs. stealth Mouth structure (sucking vs. nipping) Tooth structure
Behavior Migration Searching vs. Sit-and-Wait Feeding Ecology and Food Webs of Marine
Nekton Adult nekton are carnivores preying on smaller plankton or other nekton Plankton feeders (e.g. flying fish, sardines, baleen whales) consume the larger zooplankton such as krill, copepods, amphipods
Variation in size of food consumed Variation in tendency to feed on invertebrates vs. vertebrates Type of zooplankton consumed varies spatially and seasonally Variation in location of feeding in water column,
benthos How can we characterize food webs? Dominant taxa Complexity Number of links
Number of levels (and degree of isolation) Influence of indirect interactions Productivity/biomass at base Rate of flow of energy/mass Degree of fluctuation (seasonal, annual,
decadal scales of time) Resilience (recovery from disturbance) Degree of isolation/openness (spatial scale) Food webs, high latitudes
Food webs, tropical latitudes What is a population of tuna? How do we define population? spatial component reproductive component
in fisheries, stock is a synonym Why do we want to know the size & distribution of populations? What criteria can be applied to delimit populations of oceanic nekton?
What do we need to know? What influences nekton abundance? Bottom-up influences Intrinsic (physiological) influences Top-down influences
How important are community-level interactions? Ling cod
Plankton effect on cod recruitment: Beaugrand et al., 2003, Nature 427:661 Long-term monthly changes (19581999) in the plankton index and cod recruitment.
Trends in phytoplankton and cod success OBrien et al., Nature 404: 142 Climate variability and North Sea cod Long-line fishing
Halibut on long line Sport fishing 900 lb tuna Intensity of long-line fishing, 1986-2000
Baum et al., Science 299:389 The estimated annual rate of change, in each area ( 95% CI) and in all areas combined ( 95% CI), for coastal shark species: (A) hammerhead, (B) white, (C) tiger, and (D) coastal shark species identified from 1992 onward; and oceanic shark species: (E) thresher,
(F) blue, (G) mako, and (H) oceanic whitetip. Fig. 2. Regional loss of species diversity and ecosystem services in coastal oceans Published by AAAS
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