Satellite data analysis has shown that the environment of the open ocean – uniform and homogeneous to our naked eyes – is in fact populated by strongly contrasted physical features, whose lifetime occurs on ecologically relevant spatial and temporal scales. This dynamical landscape has a primary structuring role on marine ecosystems in particular in the pelagic regions. Pinpointing which physical features are the most ecologically relevant, tracking them, and estimating their lifetime and inter-annual variability are a major challenge for ecologists. Here, we combine marine predator bio-logging data and advanced multi-satellite diagnostic tools to track pelagic ecological hotspots in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean. We use bio-logging data to identify regional hotspots, and interpret them by pathways ecosystem aging from iron to primary production to higher trophic organisms. These results are a first step for the scientific basis of a marine protected area (MPA) proposal to the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
In terms of pelagic functionning, predators occurence will identify areas of intense trophic interactions. This information is essential to the modeling approach adopted in the MESOPP program, i.e., in the process of prediction of micronektonic organisms which are, for some of them, the prey of apex predators.