FINE SCALE OCEANOGRAPHY
Sound scattering layers (SSLs) are ubiquitous features throughout the world’s oceans and the organisms comprising these layers are important components of these vast ecosystems. The depths at which SSLs occur are dynamic and often dependent on the depth of the water column and time of day, which gives rise to well-recognized and remarkable diel vertical migration patterns. These layers are often composed of myctophid fish, decapods, cephalopods, and many other species (some of which we know very little about) which are a key prey resource for larger predators. The dramatic vertical movement between biomes offers opportunities to study the unique ecological interactions between SSLs and surface-oriented communities including predator-prey relationships and energy transfer. Therefore, understanding how the community structure within SSLs varies will help to better characterize the important ecological role these organisms play across spatial and temporal scales. As part of the DEEPEND program, we will examine the patterns in SSL distributions in response to oceanographic conditions and focus on linking scattering responses to community level dynamics across the northern Gulf of Mexico.