AIMS Geosciences, 2017, 3(3): 304-326. doi: 10.3934/geosci.2017.3.304

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Observations of the Hawaiian Mesopelagic Boundary Community in Daytime and Nighttime Habitats Using Estimated Backscatter

1 Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1000 Pope Rd, Honolulu, HI 96822
2 Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 7700 Sandholdt Rd, Moss Landing, CA 95039
3 School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, 1680 East West Rd, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822

The Hawaiian mesopelagic boundary community is a slope-associated assemblage of micronekton that undergoes diel migrations along the slopes of the islands, residing at greater depths during the day and moving upslope to forage in shallower water at night. The timing of these migrations may be influenced by environmental factors such as moon phase or ambient light. To investigate the movements of this community, we examined echo intensity data from acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) deployed at shallow and deep sites on the southern slope of Oahu, Hawaii. Diel changes in echo intensity (and therefore in estimated backscatter) were observed and determined to be caused, at least in part, by the horizontal migration of the mesopelagic boundary community. Generalized additive modeling (GAM) was used to assess the impact of environmental factors on the migration timing. Sunset time and lunar illumination were found to be significant factors. Movement speeds of the mesopelagic boundary community were estimated at 1.25–1.99 km h-1 (35–55 cm s-1). The location at which the migrations were observed is the future site of a seawater air conditioning system, which will cause artificial upwelling at our shallow observation site and may cause animal entrainment at the seawater intake near our deep water observation site. This study is the first to observe the diel migration of the mesopelagic boundary community on southern Oahu in both deep and shallow parts of the habitat, and it is also the first to examine migration trends over long time scales, which allows a better assessment of the effects of seasons and lunar illumination on micronekton migrations. Understanding the driving mechanisms of mesopelagic boundary community behavior will increase our ability to assess and manage coastal ecosystems in the face of increasing anthropogenic impacts.
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