Antarctic krill Euphausia superba within plankton

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name: Antarctic krill (Leuchtgarnele, Walkrebs, Brit)

species: Euphausia superba              Arthropoda / Crustacea / Malacostraca / Euphausiacea

SPECIES 2000 ITIS server - CAAB Taxon Code: 28 702034

details: adult male - length 58 mm

status: alive in tank onboard fisheries research vessel FFS "Walther Herwig" Antarctic Expedition 1978

dynamic: in typical oblique hovering position with pleopods beating

image based identification tool: comparison with Meganyctiphanes norvegica

special: some scientists describe Euphausia superba as the once most abundant multicellular species of the planet - some scientists describe Euphausia superba as one of the most flexible of our planet - some describe Euphausia superba as the most physiologically dynamic - some as a most interestingly designed - a famous scientist as "of almost extraterrestrial appearance, endowed with magical powers ", another: "The high importance of lowly krill"- and most of those few humans who were lucky to observe Euphausia superba alive, under water, lights still on, with the right optics, as utmost beautiful and fascinating

estimation of biomass between 50 - 900 million tonnes (>900 000 000 000 000 individuals), some estimates are as high as 1.5 billion tonnes - estimation of annual production as high as a billion tonnes - central predator/prey  organism in the antarctic ecosystem - key stone organism - current fishery ca. 80 000 tonnes per year.

Form dense schools in summer (up to 20 000 individuals per cubic meter) around the Antarctic, scavenge small plankton-organisms with "filtering basket" (mesh-openings down to 1 micron) able of compression filtration - they can also harvest ice algae from under and within the ice by rake-like structures (at the tip (daclylus) of the filtering-legs (thoracopods)) and crawl in ice-caves - fast swimmers with amazingly high escape capacity (over 50 cm per second) in spite of their cold environment (down to minus 1.7 degree Centigrade) - competing with the salps, who apparently do better in Global Warming shift, when there is less icecover. The juvenile krill have a better survival rate when they can hide in the ice caves. They mature in 3 years. The eggs sink down to 2000 - 3000 meters where the tiny nauplii hatch. After a few days they start to struggle upwards on their long journey towards the surface waters of Antarctica, into one of the most gigantic plankton assemblages of our world - recent studies with the robot "AUTOSUB" cruising 30 km under the packice showed krill abundance between the iceedge to 13 km inward exceeding those of the open water, so the traditional biomass estimates may even be too small.

Some scientists describe for the peninsular area a recent decline and a shift towards dominance of the more robust salps with a "conveyor-belt-reproduction"

geographical distribution:

Southern Ocean and under the packice of Antarctica (schematic on NASA SeaWiFS image after MARR 1962) apparently especially in the pulsating pack ice zone, covering 20 million km2 (> 12 % of the oceans, larger than Europa and USA together) inter-annual differences are known to occur (cold versus warm years - poor for instance in 1977/78) - clicks into the globe tilt

predators: E. superba is the "key stone" species of the Southern Ocean: whales consumed once 130 million tonnes per year, crabeater seals 120 million tonnes per year, penguins and other birds 115 million tonnes per year


catches: (in thousand tonnes per year - source: FAO statistical yearbook - go there for updates)

articles: (uncompleted selection on this working version -  here mostly our old work, if you find errors and/or have additional material on the web please email so we can link to it, I was on leave from Antarctic active research since 1981)


biologie der polarmeere             




no.6 1998 special issue on Ice Biology 76 - 78



some publications (mainly our own work - please help us to set up a literature base for oru project "virtual krill", we will be glad to include more work - please send as ascii or a paper we can scan - arranged in time)

ZIMMER 1913 Untersuchungen ueber den inneren Bau von Euphausia superba- Zoologica (Stuttgart) 67:65-127

BARKLEY 1940 Nahrung und Filterapparat des Walkrebschens Euphausia superba Dana - Zeitschrift fuer Fischerei und deren Hilfswissenschaften 1:65-156

MARR J W S 1962 The natural history and geography of the Antarctic Krill Euphausia superba - Discovery report 32:33-464

PAVLOV V Y 1970 On the  physiology of feeding in Euphausia superba.- Doklady Akademii Nauk SSSR 196: 1477-1480 - Translation by All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography, Moscow

KILS 1978 UMSCHAU - Scientific European 78  Heft 13 Seite 1-2 

KILS U &  KLAGES N 1979 Der Krill. Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau 10: Seite 397 - 402 - english translation The Krill

McWHINNIE M A & DENYS C J 1980 The high importance of lowly krill - Natural History 89: 66-73

HEMPEL 1981 BIOMASS UMSCHAU - Scientific European 81 Heft 13 Seite 401-405

KILS, U 1982 Swimming behaviour, Swimming Performance and Energy Balance of BIOMASS Scientific Series 3, BIOMASS Research Series - Southern Ocean Ecosystems and their living resources, initiated & Editor Sayed El-Sayed, Texas A & M University, 122 p

ANTEZANA T, RAY K 1983 Aggregation of Euphausia superba as an adaptive group strategy to the antarctic ecosystem. In: Berichte zur Polarforschung, Alfred Wegener Institut fuer Polarforschung, Sonderheft 4 (1983) On the biology of Krill Euphausia superba, Proceedings of the Seminar and Report of Krill Ecology Group, Editor S. B. Schnack, pages 199-215

KILS, U 1983 Swimming and feeding of Antarctic Krill, Euphausia superba - some outstanding energetics and dynamics - some unique morphological details. In: Berichte zur Polarforschung, Alfred Wegener Institut fuer Polarforschung, Sonderheft 4 (1983) On the biology of Krill Euphausia superba, Proceedings of the Seminar and Report of Krill Ecology Group, Editor S. B. Schnack, pages 130 -155 and title page image

ALBERTI G, KILS U 1983 Light- and Electron Microscopical Studies on the Anatomy and function of the Gills of Krill (Euphausiacea, Crustacea) Polar Biol 1: 233-242

McCLATCHIE S & BOYD C 1983 Morphological study of seive efficiencies and mandibular surface in the Antarctic krill Euphausia superba - Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 40: 955-967

HAMNER W M,  HAMMNER PP,  STRAND S W, GILMER R W 1983 Behavior of Antarctic krill  Euphausia superba: Chemoreception, feeding, schooling and molting - Science 220:433-435

BOYD C M, HEYRAUD M, BOYD C N 1984 Feeding of Antarctic krill  Euphausia superba - Journal of Crustacean Biology 4 (special volume no. 1): 123-141

HAMNER W M  1984 Aspects of schooling in Euphausia superba - Journal of Crustacean Biology 4 (special volume no. 1): 67-74

Holm-Hansen, O. and M. Huntley, 1984. Feeding requirements of krill in relation to food sources. Journal of Crustacean Biology 4, 156-173.

QUETIN L B, ROSS R M 1985 Feeding by : Does size matter? In :SIEGFRIED WR, CONDRY P R LAWS R M eds.., Antarctic nutrient cycles and food webs. p 372-377 Springer Verlag Berlin

EL-SAYED S 1985 Plankton of the Antarctic Seas. In: ANTARCTICA - Key Environments, Ed. BONNER W & WALTON D, Pergamon Press, Oxford pp 135 - 154

MARSCHALL P 1988 The overwintering strategy of Antarctic krill under the pack ice of the Weddell Sea - Polar Biol 9: 129 - 135

HAMNER B 1988 Biomechanics of filter feeding in the Antarctic krill  Euphausia superba: Review of past work and new observations. Journal of Crustacean Biology 8 (2) 149-163

KILS 1988 Was hat der Nord-Ostsee-Kanal mit der Antarktisforschung zu tun? - Mitteilungen des Canal-Vereins 9:161-165

JOCHEM F 1989 Eis und Biologie - mare -zeitschrift der Meere 76 - 78

Miller DGM, Hampton I. 1989. Biology and ecology of the Antarctic krill. BIOMASS Sci Ser 9

Martin, J.H., Fitzwater, S.E. and R.M. Gordon, 1990. Iron deficiency limits phytoplankton growth in Antarctic waters. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 4, 5-12.

Quetin, L. B., & Ross, R. M. (1991) Behavioral and physiological characteristics of the Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba. Amer. Zool. 31, 49-63

Marchant, H.J. and E.J. Murphy, 1994. Interactions at the base of the Antarctic food web. In Southern Ocean Ecology, The BIOMASS Perspective, S.Z. El-Sayed (ed.), Cambridge University Press, 267-286.

Priddle, J.P., J.P Croxall, I. Everson, R.B. Heywood, E.J. Murphy, P.A. Prince and C.B. Sear, 1988. Large-scale fluctuations in distribution and abundance of krill-a discussion of possible causes. In Antarctic Ocean and Resources Variability, D. Sahrhage (ed.), Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 169-182.

Mackintosh NA. 1972. Life cycle of Antarctic krill in relation to ice and water conditions. Discovery Rep 36

Kaufmann RS, Smith KL Jr, Baldwin RJ, Glatts RC, Robison BH, Reisenbichler KR. 1995. Effects of seasonal pack ice on the distribution of macrozooplankton and micronekton in the northwestern Weddell Sea. Mar Biol, 124:387-397

Everson I. 1992. Managing Southern Ocean krill and fish stock in a changing environment. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B, 338:311-317

Everson I, Bone DG. 1986. Detection of krill (Euphausia superba) near the sea surface: preliminary results using a towed upward-looking echo-sounder. Br Antarct Surv Bull, 72:61-70

Smetacek V, Scharek R, Nothig E-M. 1990. Seasonal and regional variation in the pelagial and its relationship to the life history cycle of krill. In: Kerry KR, Hempel G (eds.) Antarctic ecosystems. Ecological change and conservation, Springer-Verlag

Sprong I, Schalk PH. 1992. Acoustic observations on krill spring-summer migration and patchiness in the northern Weddell Sea. Polar Biol, 12:261-268

Everson I, Miller DGM. 1994. Krill mesoscale distribution and abundance: results and implications of research during the BIOMASS programme. In: El-Sayed (ed.) Southern Ocean Ecology, the BIOMASS perspective. Cambridge University Press

Siegel V, Loeb V. 1995. Recruitment of Antarctic krill Euphausia superba and possible causes for its variability. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 123:45-56.

Fedoulov PP, Murphy EJ, Shulgovsky K. 1996. Environment-krill relations in the South Georgia marine ecosystem. CCAMLR Sci, 3:13-30

Brierley AS, Watkins JL, Murray AWA. 1997. Interannual variability in krill abundance at South Georgia. Mar Ecol Prog Ser, 150: 87-98

KILS U, MARSCHALL P 1995 Der Krill, wie er schwimmt und frisst - neue Einsichten mit neuen Methoden (The antarctic krill - feeding and swimming performances - new insights with new methods) In Hempel I, Hempel G, Biologie der Polarmeere - Erlebnisse und Ergebnisse (Biology of the polar oceans - adventures and results) Fischer Jena - Stuttgart - New York, 201-207 (and images p 209-210) - english translation

U.S. GLOBEC, 1991a. GLOBEC: Southern Ocean Program-GLOBEC Workshop on Southern Ocean Marine Animal Populations and Climate Change. U.S. GLOBEC Report No. 5, 150 pp.

Verity, P.G. and V. Smetacek, 1996. Organism life cycles, predation, and the structure of marine pelagic ecosystems. Marine Ecology Progress Series 130, 277-293.

KILS 2000 IMAGES: Krill Stuff. SCIENCE 5496: 1459 - NetWatch ed. KAYSER J online publication - enhanced IT tools and translation of KILS U, MARSCHALL P 1995 Der Krill, wie er schwimmt und frisst - neue Einsichten mit neuen Methoden (The antarctic krill Euphausia superba - feeding and swimming performances - new insights with new methods) In Hempel I, Hempel G, Biologie der Polarmeere - Erlebnisse und Ergebnisse (Biology of the Polar Oceans) Fischer Jena - Stuttgart - New York, 201-207 (and images p 209-210)

ALONZO S H, MANGEL M 2001 Survival strategies and growth of krill: avoiding predators in space and time Mar Ecol Prog Ser 209: 203-217

KILS 2002 Ganz nah dran. mare 33: 125 Im Netz, ed. REKER J, image

more literature

Bibliography of the Australian Antarctic Program

Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Krill / Travaux du Second Symposium International sur le Krill

Copyright: Uwe Kils - this krill image is available for fast download in print resolution - download from here

all images of the "virtual krill" project can be downloaded for free use by Kindergarten, tuition-free schools and all children aged below 17 in all countries. Commercial users need written authorization.

Availability: GIF, TIFF, high resolution TIFF, JPEG, slide, high resolution film, CD, DVD, VHS-tape, umatic, highband SP, digital tape, 16 mm film - other krill images on GOOGLE

World Wide Web links:

iceberg gallery

Selections from Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Krill / Sélection de travaux du Second Symposium International sur le Krill

Australian Antarctic Magazine

Krill: magicians of the Southern Ocean

The world’s most abundant crustacean

Virtual SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) - Diatom

Impact of a Climatic Gradient on the Physiological Ecology of a Pelagic crustacean (PEP) - coordinator: Prof . Dr. F. Buchholz


systematic server of BIOSIS and the Zoological Society of London Internet Resource Guide for Zoology on page Crustacea where they use our server as detailed input

taxonomic server of ETI Biodiversity Center Amsterdam

use of our cyberMICROSCOPE E. s. image in the underwater Field Guide to Ross Island & McMurdo Sound, Antarctica by Peter Brueggeman Director Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library University of California, San Diego

beautiful image of krill with open filtering basket in "U.S. Antarctic Program Images" from Peggy Hamner NSF

icetour on the server of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar Research, Bremen Germany

see first in situ images from a testruns downto Antarctica of the "New Instrumentation Development Project" for the BIOMASS krill counting 1981 (the largest headcount ever performed in oceanography) the start of the Southern Ocean Carbon Sequestration initiative of Loki: the prototype of the online underwater microscope, which later evolved into the ecoSCOPE and the KIEL Optical Plankton Recorder: krill during hovering stationary - gravid female during "parachuting" - fecal string - and for discussion of school-function: composed school rendering

for K12 visitors: try out our cyberMICROSCOPE for use in class with video-projectors for interactive work in groups

responsible for this page Uwe Kils

Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences RUTGERS

back to virtual MICROSCOPE

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