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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 127:65-76 (1995)  -  doi:10.3354/meps127065

Deep-sea meiofauna communities in Antarctica: structural analysis and relation with the environment

Vanhove S, Wittoeck J, Desmet G, Van den Berghe B, Herman RL, Bak RPM, Nieuwland G, Vosjan JH, Boldrin A, Rabitti S, Vincx M

The metazoan meiofauna in the region off Kapp Norvegia, Antarctica (Weddell Sea; 71* S, 12* W), was collected from depths between 211 and 2080 m. Total meiofaunal abundance ranged from 815 to 5122 ind. per 10 cm2 and total biomass from 126 to 966 ug dwt per 10 cm2. Nematodes dominated the samples (range 83 to 97%), followed by harpacticoid copepods, polychaetes and kinorhynchs. A typical skewed length frequency distribution was obtained with most nematodes in the 0.4 to 0.6 mm size-class. The meiofauna communities were primarily influenced by bathymetric depth and food availability (e.g. organic matter and microbiota), which in turn are suggested to be directly related to phytoplankton blooms and associated sedimentation pulses. Standing stock and distribution patterns indicate that the meiofauna from the Weddell Sea show similar features to major deep-sea assemblages elsewhere in the world.

Meiofauna . Continental margin . Antarctica

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