Diel Vertical Migrators Respond to Short-Term Upwelling Events

TitleDiel Vertical Migrators Respond to Short-Term Upwelling Events
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsSato, M, Benoit-Bird, KJ
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Keywordsacoustics, biological-physical interactions, diel vertical migration, Upwelling

Pelagic organisms inhabiting coastal upwelling regions face a high risk of advection away from the nearshore productive habitat, potentially leading to mortality. We explored how animals remain in a productive yet highly advective environment in the Northern California Current System using the cabled observatory system located off the Oregon coast. Acoustic scatterers consistent with swimbladder-bearing fish were only present during the downwelling season as these animals avoided the cold waters associated with strong upwelling conditions in summer and fall. Fish responded to short-term upwelling events by increasing the frequency of diel vertical migration. Throughout the study, their vertical positions corresponded to the depth of minimum cross-shelf transport, providing a mechanism for retention. The observed behavioral response highlights the importance of studying ecological processes at short timescales and the abilities of pelagic organisms to control their horizontal distributions through fine-tuned diel vertical migration in response to upwelling.