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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 422:139-144 (2011)  -  DOI:

Abundance, oxygen consumption and carbon demand of brittle stars in Young Sound and the NE Greenland shelf

Martin Emil Blicher1,2,*, Mikael Kristian Sejr2

1Greenland Climate Research Centre, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Kivioq 2, Box 570, 3900 Nuuk, Greenland
2National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University Vejlsøvej 25, 8600 Silkeborg, Denmark

ABSTRACT: We used sea floor photography to estimate brittle star abundance in Young Sound, NE Greenland and the adjacent shelf. From photos covering a total area of 78 m2 and spanning a depth range from 20 to 310 m we found maximum average densities of >400 ind. m–2 at 40 to 80 m depth. Ophiocten sericeum was the dominant species. However, gradual changes in species and size composition with depth were observed. Average biomass was ~600 mg C m–2 with highest values at sites dominated by the large Ophiopleura borealis (up to 2190 mg C m–2). We measured average individual oxygen consumption of 3 dominant species at ambient temperature (–1.0°C) and salinity in incubation chambers using a fiber-optic oxygen sensor enabling continuous measurements. We established a general relation between individual disc diameter (D, mm) and oxygen consumption (R, µmol O2 h–1 ind.–1): R = 6.0 × 10–4 × D2.60 (R2 = 0.96, n = 33), which facilitated the estimation of community respiration and carbon demand from sea floor images. Peaks in total carbon demand were found in the fjord at 30 m (14 mg C m–2 d–1) and 160 m depth (13 mg C m–2 d–1), resulting from high densities of medium sized (10 to 15 mm disc diameter) O. sericeum, and the presence of the very large (20 to 35 mm disc diameter) O. borealis, respectively. At the other stations values ranged from 0.5 to 8 mg C m–2 d–1. Overall, our results demonstrate that brittle stars, despite very low individual energy requirements, contribute significantly to marine carbon cycling in Young Sound as well as in the shelf areas off NE Greenland.

KEY WORDS: Arctic · Macrobenthos · Epifauna · Respiration · Sea floor photography · Megafauna · Benthos

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Cite this article as: Blicher ME, Sejr MK (2011) Abundance, oxygen consumption and carbon demand of brittle stars in Young Sound and the NE Greenland shelf. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 422:139-144.

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