New Paper: Long-term patterns in ecosystem phenology near Palmer Station

Overview of fish and top predator presence and activity patterns in the Palmer Station region. Top predator occupancy patterns are estimated from visual sightings, Palmer Station monthly reports, and literature reviews (caveats are discussed in the text).

Congratulations to Megan Cimino and many other members of the PAL team who just had a new paper published in Ecosphere.

Here’s a quick snippet…

We show that sea ice retreat and increasing photoperiod in the spring trigger a sequence of events from mid-November to mid-February, including Adélie penguin clutch initiation, snow melt, calm conditions (low winds and warm air/sea temperature), phytoplankton blooms, shallow mixed layer depths, particulate organic carbon flux, peak humpback whale abundances, nutrient drawdown, and bacterial accumulation. Subsequently, from May to June, snow accumulates, zooplankton indicator species appear, and sea ice advances.

From an Adélie penguin perspective, earlier sea ice retreat and shifts in the timing of suitable conditions or prey characteristics could lead to mismatches, or asynchronies, that ultimately influence chick survival via their mass at fledging. However, more work is needed to understand how phenological shifts affect chick thermoregulatory costs and the abundance, availability, and energy content of key prey species, which support chick growth and survival. While we did not detect many long-term phenological trends, we expect that when sea ice trends become significant within our LTER time series, phenological trends and negative effects from ecological mismatches will follow.

Cimino, M. A., Conroy, J. A., Connors, E., Bowman, J., Corso, A., Ducklow, H., et al. (2023). Long‐term patterns in ecosystem phenology near Palmer Station, Antarctica, from the perspective of the Adélie penguin. Ecosphere14(2). https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.4417