Influence of the Columbia River plume (USA) on the vertical and horizontal distribution of mesozooplankton over the Washington and Oregon shelf
AbstractPeterson, J. O., and Peterson, W. T. 2008. Influence of the Columbia River plume (USA) on the vertical and horizontal distribution of mesozooplankton over the Washington and Oregon shelf. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 65: 477–483. River plumes extending out over continental shelf waters have distinct frontal boundaries along their leading edges that concentrate highly buoyant particles, including zooplankton. The margin between the base of the plume and the underlying oceanic waters is often many times larger in spatial extent than the visible surface front, but the influence of this region of a river plume on the vertical and horizontal distribution of zooplankton is less well understood. Using a laser optical plankton counter (LOPC) and a conductivity–temperature–depth sensor (CTD) mounted to a rapidly undulating tow body, we examined the horizontal and vertical distribution of zooplankton proximate to the Columbia River plume, to study how plume waters affect zooplankton over the continental shelf. Overall, vertically integrated zooplankton abundance and biovolume was elevated close to “aged” plume waters. Zooplankton tended to aggregate near the surface close to river plume waters. When plume waters are present at the surface, zooplankton aggregations tended to be in the upper 10 m of the water column, compared with 25 m when the plume was not present. The presence of river plumes may be ecologically and energetically important to surface feeding planktivores such as larval and juvenile fish.