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Plankton
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Other plankton

Other planktonic species than Antarctic krill may dominate regionally in the Southern Ocean. 

Salps

Among the grazers the salp (primarily Salpa thompsoni), which is a free-floating tunicate, is very abundant. To a certain degree their distribution overlaps with that of Antarctic krill, but the salps tend to occupy lower-production regions and tolerate warmer waters than the Antarctic krill. 

Pelagic amphipods

 

The large order of Amphipods can be benthic or pelagic, parasitic or free-living depending on species. Of the pelagic species in the Souther Ocean, Themisto gaudichaudii is the most abundant. It is likely the most abundant pelagic crustacean in the Southern ocean after copepods, krill and salps, which are all mainly planktivorous. T. gaudichaudi is carnivorous and may in some Antarctic regions be observed in dense swarms, for instance around South Georgia. It is an important food source for many top predators including species of penguins, flying birds, whales, fish and squid. 

What is an ecosystem?

Ecosystems are often described in terms of energy transfer between levels of the food chain. Behind the energy transfer, however, a life or death struggle between predators and prey is taking place. This struggle, in which every individual tries to make the most of itself by spreading its genes, results in what we call the “interplay of nature”. This interplay is fascinating, both as a field of study and as a management problem.

More about ecosystem