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Distinct Zooplankton Regime Shift Patterns Across Ecoregions Of The U.S. Northeast Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem

February 25, 2020

Decadal scale regime shifts in Northeast shelf plankton communities exhibited distinct characteristics between ecoregions and seasons; results suggest these regime shifts are driven by both local and basin-scale dynamics.

We investigated regime shifts in seasonal zooplankton communities of the Northeast continental shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (NES) and its subcomponent ecoregions over a multi-decadal period (1977–2013). Our cross ecoregion analysis shows that regime shifts in different ecoregions often exhibited very distinct characteristics, emphasizing more granular fluctuations in NES plankton communities relative to previous work. Shifts early in the time series generally reflected an increase in abundance levels. The response of zooplankton abundance within fall communities was more similar among ecoregions than for spring communities. The Gulf of Maine exhibited highly distinct patterns from other ecoregions, with regime shifts identified in the early 1980s, early 2000s, and mid-2000s for spring communities. Regime shifts were identified in the early to mid-1990s for the NES, Georges Bank, and the Mid-Atlantic Bight ecoregions, while the fall communities experienced shifts in the early 1990s and late 1980s for the NES and Georges Bank, but in the late 1990s in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. A constrained correspondence analysis of zooplankton community against local and basin-scale climatological indices suggests that water temperature, stratification, and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) were the predominant factors in driving the zooplankton community composition.

Morse R.E., K.D. Friedland, D. Tommasi, C. Stock, J. Nye. 2017. Distinct zooplankton regime shift patterns across ecoregions of the U.S. Northeast continental shelf Large Marine Ecosystem. Journal of Marine Systems. 165: 77-91. 


Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on 04/29/2022