© The Author(s), 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Science Advances, 4(12), (2018): eaau5180. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aau5180.
Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs), large midwater regions of very low oxygen, are expected to expand as a result of climate change. While oxygen is known to be important in structuring midwater ecosystems, a precise and mechanistic understanding of the effects of oxygen on zooplankton is lacking. Zooplankton are important components of midwater food webs and biogeochemical cycles. Here, we show that, in the eastern tropical North Pacific OMZ, previously undescribed submesoscale oxygen variability has a direct effect on the distribution of many major zooplankton groups. Despite extraordinary hypoxia tolerance, many zooplankton live near their physiological limits and respond to slight (≤1%) changes in oxygen. Ocean oxygen loss (deoxygenation) may, thus, elicit major unanticipated changes to midwater ecosystem structure and function.
We thank the captain and crew of the R/V Sikuliaq (University of Alaska) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography for additional technical services. Thanks also to D. Ullman and D. Casagrande for Wire Flyer assistance; C. Matson and J. Calderwood for
MOCNESS upgrades; S. Gordon (professional photographer, Open Boat Films LLC) for the photographs and movies; and A. Dymowska, J. Ivory, Y. Jin, J. McGreal, and N. Redmond for help at sea. Funding: Funding was provided by the NSF grants OCE1459243 (to K.F.W., C.R., and B.A.S.), OCE1458967 (to C.D.), DGE1244657 (to M.A.B.), and OCE1460819 (URI REU SURFO program to S.R.) plus funding from our respective institutions. Author contributions: K.F.W., B.A.S., C.R., and C.D. conceived the project. K.F.W. led the writing effort, with substantial contributions from all the authors. K.F.W. directed the MOCNESS component including zooplankton abundance and biomass quantification. B.A.S. directed the metabolic
experiments and Tucker trawls. C.R. directed the Wire Flyer work. B.A.S., C.D., K.A.S.M., and M.A.B. developed the MI models. D.O., C.T.S., D.M., and S.R. processed and analyzed the zooplankton data. T.J.A. processed the MOCNESS hydrographic data. Competing interests: The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Data and materials availability: All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials. Extensive files of continuous hydrographic data from transects are available from C.R. (Wire Flyer) and K.F.W. (MOCNESS). Additional data related to this paper may be requested from the authors.
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