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    Spatial and seasonal distribution of adult Oithona similis in the Southern Ocean: predictions using boosted regression trees

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    M.H. Pinkerton, A.N.H. Smith, B. Raymond, G.W. Hosie, B. Sharp, J.R. Leathwick and J.M. Bradford-Grieve
    (Deep-Sea Res. I, 57 (2010): 469–485)

    We applied a multivariate statistical modelling technique called boosted regression trees to derive relationships between environmental conditions and the distribution of the adult stage of the cyclopoid copepod Oithona similis in the Southern Ocean. Nearly 20 000 samples from the Southern Ocean Continuous Plankton Recorder survey (87% from East Antarctica) were used to model the probability of detection (presence) and relative abundance of adults of this zooplankton species in surface waters. We demonstrate that it is possible to obtain reasonable models for both the presence (area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve of 0.77) and relative abundance (28–35% variance explained) of adult O. similis between November and March in much of the Southern Ocean. No investigation was possible where the environmental characteristics were not well represented by the SO-CPR dataset, namely, the Argentine shelf, Weddell Sea, and the frontal region north of the Amundsen Sea, or under sea-ice. Our analyses support the hypothesis that adult O. similis abundance is related to environmental conditions in a broadly similar way throughout the Southern Ocean. Compared to a compilation of nethaul data from the literature, the abundance model explained 34% of the variance in surface concentrations of adult stages of this species, and 23–59% of the variance in depth-integrated abundance of copepodite and adult stages combined. The models show higher occurrence and elevated abundances in a broad circumpolar band between the Antarctic Polar Front and the southern boundary of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (approximately 54–641S). Evidence of diel vertical migration by adults of this species north of 651S was found, with surface abundances 20% higher at night than during the day. There was no evidence of diel migration south of 651S. Five potential ‘‘hotspots’’ of adult O. similis were identified: in the southern Scotia Sea, two areas off east Antarctica, in the frontal zone north of the Amundsen Sea, and a small area in the outer Bellingshausen Sea. We recommend that a database of all available net-haul data on Oithona similis in the Southern Ocean be created to facilitate further investigations on the circumpolar distribution of this species. (Deep-Sea Res. I, 57 (2010): 469–485)