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Antarctic sympagic meiofauna in winter: Comparing diversity, abundance and biomass between perennially and seasonally ice-covered regions

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 10:10 authored by Kramer, M, Kerrie SwadlingKerrie Swadling, Klaus MeinersKlaus Meiners, Kiko, R, Scheltz, A, Nicolaus, M, Werner, I
This study of Antarctic sympagic meiofauna in pack ice during late winter compares communities between the perennially ice-covered western Weddell Sea and the seasonally ice-covered southern Indian Ocean. Sympagic meiofauna (proto- and metazoans ) and eggs were studied in terms of diversity, abundance and carbon biomass, and with respect to vertical distribution. Metazoan meiofauna had significantly higher abundance and biomass in the western Weddell Sea (medians: 31.1×103 m−2 and 6.53 mg m−2, respectively) than in the southern Indian Ocean (medians: 1.0×103 m−2 and 0.06 mg m−2, respectively). Metazoan diversity was also significantly higher in the western Weddell Sea. Furthermore, the two regions differed significantly in terms of meiofauna community composition, as revealed through multivariate analyses. The overall diversity of sympagic meiofauna was high, and integrated abundance and biomass of total meiofauna were also high in both regions (0.6–178.6×103 m−2 and 0.02–89.70 mg m−2, respectively), mostly exceeding values reported earlier from the northern Weddell Sea in winter. We attribute the differences in meiofauna communities between the two regions to the older first-year ice and multi-year ice that is present in the western Weddell Sea, but not in the southern Indian Ocean. Our study indicates the significance of perennially ice-covered regions for the establishment of diverse and abundant meiofauna communities. Furthermore, it highlights the potential importance of sympagic meiofauna for the organic matter pool and trophic interactions in sea ice.


Publication title

Deep-Sea Research. Part 2: Topical Studies in Oceanography










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Ox5 1Gb

Rights statement

Copyrigh 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments

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