Vertical distribution of bivalve larvae along a cross-shelf transect during summer upwelling and downwelling

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Previous time-series studies of meroplankton abundances in the LEO-15 research area off Tuckerton, New Jersey, USA (39°28′N, 74°15′W) indicated short-lived (6–12 h) pulses in larval surfclam (Spisula solidissima Dillwyn) concentration often associated with the initiation of downwelling. To examine possible larval surfclam (and other bivalve) concentrating mechanisms during upwelling and downwelling, six sets of adaptive mobile zooplankton pump samples were taken in July 1998 at different depths at five to six stations along a 25-km transect perpendicular to the coastline and crossing Beach Haven Ridge at LEO-15. Sampling was guided by near real-time, satellite imagery of sea surface temperature overlain by sea surface currents from a shore-based ocean surface current radar (OSCR) unit. A Seabird CTD on the mobile pump frame near the intake provided information on thermocline depth, and sampling depths were adjusted according to the temperature profiles. Near shore, the thermocline was tilted down during downwelling, and up during upwelling. The highest concentrations of surfclam larvae occurred near the bottom at a station near Beach Haven Ridge during downwelling, and just above the thermocline 3 km further offshore during well-developed upwelling. For other bivalve taxa, the larvae were concentrated near the thermocline (Anomia simplex Orbigny and Pholadidae spp.) or concentrated upslope near the bottom (Mytilidae spp.) during upwelling, and the larvae were concentrated near the bottom or were moved downslope during downwelling. Donax fossor Say larvae were found near the surface or above the thermocline during upwelling and downwelling. The general patterns of larval bivalve distribution appear to be influenced by water mass movement during upwelling and downwelling. The larval concentration patterns of individual species are likely a consequence of advection due to upwelling and downwelling circulation, vertical shear in the front region, species-specific larval behaviors, and larval sources.

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