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The Southern Ocean Group at Rhodes University: seventeen years of biological oceanography in the Southern Ocean reviewed


, : The Southern Ocean Group at Rhodes University: seventeen years of biological oceanography in the Southern Ocean reviewed. South African Journal of Science 100(11-12): 571-577

This paper reviews the main findings of the Southern Ocean Group at Rhodes University over the last 17 years. A primary contribution has been the development of conceptual models of the physicalbiological driving mechanisms that support enormous seasonal populations of land-based top predators at the Prince Edward Islands. Collectively, these models are referred to as the lifesupport system of the islands. Near-shore subcomponents of the ecosystem, including inshore feeding predators, are largely supported by autochthonous primary production of kelps and localized diatom blooms. These energy sources feed indirectly into top predator populations via the benthic communities. A crucial link is formed by the bottom-dwelling shrimp, Nauticaris marionis, which feeds largely on benthic species and detritus and is eaten by a number of diving seabirds. The frontal systems that lie north and south of the islands are important feeding grounds for offshore feeding birds. A decadal-scale southward shift in the position of the Sub-antarctic Front towards the islands is reflected in increases in populations of these species.

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