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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 628:37-54 (2019)  -  DOI:

Benthic communities of the Filchner Region (Weddell Sea, Antarctica)

Santiago E. A. Pineda-Metz1,2,*, Enrique Isla3, Dieter Gerdes1

1Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany
2Fachbereich 2 Biologie/Chemie, Universität Bremen, 28334 Bremen, Germany
3Institut de Ciències del Mar - CSIC, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Due to extreme pack ice, the Filchner Region in the southern Weddell Sea is one of the least studied regions on the planet. Here, we provide a detailed description of the benthic communities of this high-Antarctic ecosystem, and assess the relationship between environmental factors and benthic distribution patterns. Fieldwork was performed in the austral summers of 2013-14 and 2015-16 during the R/V ‘Polarstern’ cruises PS82 and PS96. Using a combination of multibox corer (MBC) and seabed image data from 37 stations (water depths 243-1217 m), we differentiated 6 station groups. While 1 of these groups was comprised of a single station, the other 5 groups represented distinct benthic communities. Three of these correspond to the previously described Eastern Shelf, Southern Shelf, and Southern Trench communities. However, we found distribution shifts and MBC abundance and biomass reductions when comparing our results with earlier studies. The other 2 groups have novel characteristics and are presented here as an Ice/Ice Shelf Water-related community and a Continental slope community. Water depth in combination with 2 or 3 other environmental variables (out of 7 available) explained <30% of the benthic distribution and composition. We found a tighter relationship between water mass circulation and spatial distribution of the communities; we suggest using water-mass-related characteristics (e.g. productivity regimes, water currents) to better explain benthic spatial distribution patterns.

KEY WORDS: Southern Ocean · Infaunal benthos · Epifaunal benthos · Mega- and macrofauna · Zoobenthic distribution patterns · Sediment cores · Seabed images · Environment-benthic relationships

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Cite this article as: Pineda-Metz SEA, Isla E, Gerdes D (2019) Benthic communities of the Filchner Region (Weddell Sea, Antarctica). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 628:37-54.

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