MEPS 292:251-262 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps292251

Seasonal variability in abundance, respiration and lipid composition of Arctic under-ice amphipods

Iris Werner1,*, Holger Auel2

1Institute for Polar Ecology, Wischhofstraße 1–3, Gebäude 12, 24148 Kiel, Germany
2Marine Zoology (FB2) University of Bremen, PO Box 330440, 28334 Bremen, Germany

ABSTRACT: The Arctic under-ice amphipods Apherusa glacialis, Onisimus glacialis, O. nanseni and Gammarus wilkitzkii are autochthonous below the pack ice, i.e. they occur in this habitat during all seasons. In this study, seasonal dynamics in abundance were only evident in A. glacialis. Respiration rates did not differ significantly between summer and winter in any species, indicating that the under-ice habitat is a comparatively stable environment in terms of seasonal variations. The assessment of total lipids and fatty acid biomarkers revealed differences in feeding behaviour and overwintering strategy among the amphipod species. A. glacialis is strictly herbivorous, feeding on ice-algae at the underside of the ice during the productive season. The species overwinters in an active state, fuelled at least partly by internal lipid reserves stored during summer. O. glacialis switches from a predominantly herbivorous diet in summer to metazoan prey, including planktonic copepods, in winter, so that lipid catabolism is less important to winter survival. The congener O. nanseni relies on an opportunistic omnivorous diet throughout the year, with a higher proportion of metazoan prey during summer compared to O. glacialis. G. wilkitzkii is able to exploit a wide spectrum of food sources, from predominantly ice algae in summer to more ice fauna and planktonic copepods in winter. This species partly meets its energy requirements by using internal lipid reserves during winter.

KEY WORDS: Seasonal dynamics · Overwintering strategies · Cryo-pelagic coupling · Arctic foodweb · Apherusa glacialis · Onisimus glacialis · Onisimus nanseni · Gammarus wilkitzkii

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