Skip to main content Accessibility help

Physical–biological interactions influencing large toothfish over the Ross Sea shelf

  • Julian Ashford (a1), Michael Dinniman (a2) and Cassandra Brooks (a3)


We add comments to a recent series of publications in peer-reviewed journals concerning the distribution of large Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) found over the inner shelf of the Ross Sea. We note that earlier fish ecologists advanced innovative hypotheses invoking physical–biological interactions with life history, and that these, far from being disproved, have been relegated by more immediately pressing management concerns. We argue that, despite the considerable advances achieved by research groups working on D. mawsoni, an understanding of distribution and abundance is incomplete without reference to the physical structure that supports their life history. We briefly consider hypotheses highlighted by the recent literature in the context of major features of the shelf circulation in the Ross Sea, in particular intrusions of modified Circumpolar Deep Water along trough systems. We suggest physical–biological interactions that may be involved and call for improvements in the monitoring programme that can help test between the competing hypotheses.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Agostini, C., Patarnello, T., Ashford, J.R., Torres, J.J., Zane, L. & Papetti, C. 2015. Genetic differentiation in the ice-dependent fish Pleuragramma antarctica along the Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Biogeography, 10.1111/jbi.12497.
Ainley, D.G., Eastman, J.T. & Brooks, C.M. 2016. Comments on “The Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni): biology, ecology, and life history in the Ross Sea region,” by S. Hanchet et al. Hydrobiologia, 10.1007/s10750-015-2607-4.
Ainley, D.G., Ballard, G., Eastman, J.T., Evans, C.W., Nur, N. & Parkinson, C.L. 2017. Changed prevalence, not absence, explains toothfish status in McMurdo Sound. Antarctic Science, 10.1017/S0954102016000584.
Ainley, D.G., Nur, N., Eastman, J.T., Ballard, G., Parkinson, C.L., Evans, C.W. & DeVries, A.L. 2013. Decadal trends in abundance, size and condition of Antarctic toothfish in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, 1972–2011. Fish and Fisheries, 14, 343363.
Ashford, J.R., Arkhipkin, A.I. & Jones, C.M. 2006. Can the chemistry of otolith nuclei determine population structure of Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides? Journal of Fish Biology, 69, 708721.
Ashford, J.R., Jones, C.M. & Fegley, L. 2013. Within-day variability in catch taken by public access fishers during a recreational fishing survey. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 142, 974978.
Ashford, J.R., Zane, L., Torres, J.R., La Mesa, M. & Simms, A.R. 2017. Population structure and life history connectivity of Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarctica) in the Southern Ocean ecosystem. In Vacchi, M., Pisano, E. & Ghigliotti, L., eds. The Antarctic silverfish: a keystone species in a changing ecosystem. Basel: Springer, 193234.
Ashford, J.R., Jones, C.M., Hofmann, E.E., Everson, I., Moreno, C.A., Duhamel, G. & Williams, R. 2008. Otolith chemistry indicates population structuring by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 65, 135146.
Ashford, J.R., Dinniman, M., Brooks, C., Andrews, A.H., Hofmann, E., Cailliet, G., Jones, C. & Ramanna, N. 2012. Does large-scale ocean circulation structure life history connectivity in Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni)? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 69, 19031919.
Brooks, C.M., Andrews, A.H., Ashford, J.R., Ramanna, N., Jones, C.D., Lundstrom, C. & Cailliet, G.M. 2011. Age estimation and lead-radium dating of Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni). Polar Biology, 34, 329338.
Dinniman, M.S., Klinck, J.M. & Smith, W.O. 2003. Cross-shelf exchange in a model of the Ross Sea circulation and biogeochemistry. Deep-Sea Research II - Topical Studies in Oceanography, 50, 31033120.
Dinniman, M.S., Klinck, J.M. & Smith, W.O. 2007. Influence of sea ice cover and icebergs on circulation and water mass formation in a numerical circulation model of the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, 10.1029/2006JC004036.
Fach, B.A. & Klinck, J.M. 2006. Transport of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) across the Scotia Sea. Part I: Circulation and particle tracking simulations. Deep-Sea Research I - Oceanographic Research Papers, 53, 9871010.
Ferguson, J.W. 2012. Population structure and connectivity of an important pelagic forage fish in the Antarctic ecosystem, Pleuragramma antarcticum, in relation to large scale circulation. MSc thesis, Old Dominion University, 132 pp. [Unpublished].
Hanchet, S.M., Rickard, G.J., Fenaughty, J.M., Dunn, A. & Williams, M.J.H. 2008. A hypothetical life cycle for Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) in the Ross Sea region. CCAMLR Science, 15, 3554.
Hanchet, S., Dunn, A., Parker, S., Horn, P., Stevens, D. & Mormede, S. 2015. The Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni): biology, ecology, and life history in the Ross Sea region. Hydrobiologia, 10.1007/s10750-015-2435-6.
Hanchet, S., Dunn, A., Parker, S., Horn, P., Stevens, D. & Mormede, S. 2016. Response to the opinion paper by Ainley et al. Hydrobiologia, 10.1007/s10750-015-2607-4.
Hofmann, E.E., Klinck, J.M., Locarnini, R.A., Fach, B. & Murphy, E. 1998. Krill transport in the Scotia Sea and environs. Antarctic Science, 10, 406415.
Hubold, G. 1984. Spatial distribution of Pleuragramma antarctica (Pisces: Nototheniidae) near the Filchner and Larsen ice shelves (Weddell Sea, Antarctica). Polar Biology, 3, 231236.
Jacobs, S.S. & Giulivi, C.F. 2010. Large multidecadal salinity trends near the Pacific–Antarctic continental margin. Journal of Climate, 23, 45084524.
Jacobs, S.S., Amos, A.F. & Bruchhausen, P.M. 1970. Ross Sea oceanography and Antarctic Bottom Water formation. Deep Sea Research and Oceanographic Abstracts, 17, 935962.
Jacobs, S.S., Giulivi, C.F. & Mele, P.A. 2002. Freshening of the Ross Sea during the late 20th century. Science, 297, 386389.
Kellermann, A. 1986. Geographical distribution and abundance of postlarval and juvenile Pleuragramma antarctica (Pisces, Notothenioidei) off the Antarctic Peninsula. Polar Biology, 6, 111119.
Kohut, J., Hunter, E. & Huber, B. 2013. Small-scale variability of the cross-shelf flow over the outer shelf of the Ross Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, 118, 18631876.
La Mesa, M. & Eastman, J.T. 2012. Antarctic silverfish: life strategies of a key species in the high-Antarctic ecosystem. Fish and Fisheries, 13, 241266.
La Mesa, M., Piñones, A., Catalano, B. & Ashford, J. 2015. Predicting early life connectivity of Antarctic silverfish, an important forage species along the Antarctic Peninsula. Fisheries Oceanography, 10.1111/fog.12096.
La Mesa, M., Riginella, E., Mazzoldi, C. & Ashford, J. 2014. Reproductive resilience of ice-dependant Antarctic silverfish in a rapidly changing system along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Marine Ecology, 10.1111/maec.12140.
La Mesa, M., Catalano, B., Russo, A., Greco, S., Vacchi, M. & Azzali, M. 2010. Influence of environmental conditions on spatial distribution and abundance of early life stages of Antarctic silverfish, Pleuragramma antarcticum (Nototheniidae), in the Ross Sea. Antarctic Science, 22, 243254.
Loeb, V.J., Kellermann, A.K., Koubbi, P., North, A.W. & White, M.G. 1993. Antarctic larval fish assemblages: a review. Bulletin of Marine Science, 53, 416449.
MacAyeal, D.R., Okal, M.H., Thom, J.E., Brunt, K.M., Kim, Y.-J. & Bliss, A.K. 2008. Tabular iceberg collisions within the coastal regime. Journal of Glaciology, 54, 371386.
McGillicuddy, D.J., Sedwick, P.N., Dinniman, M.S., Arrigo, K.R., Bibby, T.S., Greenan, B.J.W., Hofmann, E.E., Klinck, J.M., Smith, W.O., Mack, S.L., Marsay, C.M., Sohst, B.M. & van Dijken, G.L. 2015. Iron supply and demand in an Antarctic shelf ecosystem. Geophysical Research Letters, 42, 80888097.
Near, T.J., Russo, S.E., Jones, C.D. & DeVries, A.L. 2003. Ontogenetic shift in buoyancy and habitat in the Antarctic toothfish, Dissostichus mawsoni (Perciformes: Nototheniidae). Polar Biology, 26, 124128.
Orsi, A.H. & Wiederwohl, C.L. 2009. A recount of Ross Sea waters. Deep-Sea Research II - Topical Studies in Oceanography, 56, 778795.
Parker, M.L., Fraser, W.F., Ashford, J., Patarnello, T., Zane, L. & Torres, J.J. 2015. Assemblages of micronektonic fishes and invertebrates in a gradient of regional warming along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Marine Systems, 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2015.07.005.
Parker, S.J., Mormede, S., DeVries, A.L., Hanchet, S.M. & Eisert, E. 2016. Have Antarctic fish returned to McMurdo Sound? Antarctic Science, 28, 2934.
Piñones, A., Hofmann, E.E., Dinniman, M.S. & Klinck, J.M. 2011. Lagrangian simulation of transport pathways and residence times along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Deep-Sea Research II - Topical Studies In Oceanography, 58, 15241539.
Purkey, S.G. & Johnson, G.C. 2013. Antarctic Bottom Water warming and freshening: contributions to sea level rise, ocean freshwater budgets, and global heat gain. Journal of Climate, 26, 61056122.
Renner, A.H.H., Thorpe, S.E., Heywood, K.J., Murphy, E.J., Watkins, J.L. & Meredith, M.P. 2012. Advective pathways near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula: trends, variability and ecosystem implications. Deep-Sea Research I - Oceanographic Research Papers, 63, 91101.
Robinson, N.J. & Williams, M.J.M. 2012. Iceberg-induced changes to polynya operation and regional oceanography in the southern Ross Sea, Antarctic, from in situ observations. Antarctic Science, 24, 514526.
Shaw, P.W., Arkhipkin, A.I. & Al-Khairulla, H. 2004. Genetic structuring of Patagonian toothfish populations in the southwest Atlantic Ocean: the effect of the Antarctic Polar Front and deep-water troughs as barriers to genetic exchange. Molecular Ecology, 13, 32933303.
Stewart, A.L. & Thompson, A.F. 2015. Eddy-mediated transport of warm Circumpolar Deep Water across the Antarctic shelf break. Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1002/2014GL062281.
Swift, J.H. & Orsi, A.H. 2012. Sixty-four days of hydrography and storms: RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer’s 2011 SO4P Cruise. Oceanography, 25, 5455.
Thompson, S.K. 1992. Sampling. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 343 pp.
Wang, Q., Danilov, S., Hellmer, H., Sidorenko, D., Schröter, J. & Jung, T. 2013. Enhanced cross-shelf exchange by tides in the western Ross Sea. Geophysical Research Letters, 40, 57355739.
White, M.G. 1998. Development, dispersal and recruitment: a paradox for survival among Antarctic fish. In di Prisco, G., Pisano, E. & Clarke, A., eds. Fishes of Antarctica. A biological overview. Milan: Springer, 5362.
Zane, L., Marcato, S., Bargelloni, L., Bortolotto, E., Papetti, C., Simonato, M., Varotto, V. & Patarnello, T. 2006. Demographic history and population structure of the Antarctic silverfish Pleuragramma antarcticum . Molecular Ecology, 15, 44994511.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Physical–biological interactions influencing large toothfish over the Ross Sea shelf

  • Julian Ashford (a1), Michael Dinniman (a2) and Cassandra Brooks (a3)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.