[MARMAM] New publication: Submesoscale coupling of krill and whales revealed by aggregative Lagrangian coherent structures (James Fahlbusch)

James Andrew Fahlbusch musculus at stanford.edu
Fri Feb 23 09:07:29 PST 2024

Hello everyone,

On behalf of my coauthors, I am pleased to share our recently published paper titled "Submesoscale coupling of krill and whales revealed by aggregative Lagrangian coherent structures".

Fahlbusch James A., Cade David E., Hazen Elliott L., Elliott Meredith L., Saenz Benjamin T., Goldbogen Jeremy A. and Jahncke Jaime (2024) Submesoscale coupling of krill and whales revealed by aggregative Lagrangian coherent structures. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

In the marine environment, dynamic physical processes shape biological productivity and predator–prey interactions across multiple scales. Identifying pathways of physical–biological coupling is fundamental to understand the functioning of marine ecosystems yet it is challenging because the interactions are difficult to measure. We examined submesoscale (less than 100 km) surface current features using remote sensing techniques alongside ship-based surveys of krill and baleen whale distributions in the California Current System. We found that aggregative surface current features, represented by Lagrangian coherent structures (LCS) integrated over temporal scales between 2 and 10 days, were associated with increased (a) krill density (up to 2.6 times more dense), (b) baleen whale presence (up to 8.3 times more likely) and (c) subsurface seawater density (at depths up to 10 m). The link between physical oceanography, krill density and krill–predator distributions suggests that LCS are important features that drive the flux of energy and nutrients across trophic levels. Our results may help inform dynamic management strategies aimed at reducing large whales ship strikes and help assess the potential impacts of environmental change on this critical ecosystem.

The paper is open access and can be downloaded here:

Code and documentation can be found on my github page:

A knitted R-Markdown with the analysis and results for this manuscript (including the code to produce them) can be found at:

Please contact me at musculus at stanford.edu if you have any questions.

Best regards,

James Fahlbusch
PhD Candidate
Hopkins Marine Station
Stanford University
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