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MEPS 700:13-37 (2022)  -  DOI:

Sea-ice-related environmental drivers affect meiofauna and macrofauna communities differently at large scales (Southern Ocean, Antarctic)

Friederike Säring1,2,*, Gritta Veit-Köhler3, Derya Seifert4, Iris Liskow5, Heike Link1,2

1University of Rostock, Department Maritime Systems, Faculty of Interdisciplinary Research, 18059 Rostock, Germany
2University of Rostock, Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science, 18059 Rostock, Germany
3Senckenberg am Meer, German Centre for Marine Biodiversity Research DZMB, 26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany
4Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Institute for Ecosystem Research, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science, 24098 Kiel, Germany
5Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Department Marine Nitrogen Cycling, 18119 Rostock, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The structure and drivers of Southern Ocean meiofauna and macrofauna were investigated together in one extensive study. From the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula to the southeastern Weddell Sea, we classified the investigated stations into 5 categories according to their summer sea-ice cover: (I) none (Drake Passage), (II) irregular (Bransfield Strait), (III) seasonal (northwestern Weddell Sea), (IV) high (South Filchner Trough), and (V) constant (North Filchner Trough). The categories differed significantly in primary-production-related characteristics in the water column and food availability at the seafloor. Almost all ice-cover categories differed significantly in meiofauna communities (32-500 µm, 20 taxa, 585 825 individuals). Fewer regions differed significantly in macrofauna (>500 µm, 19 taxa, 3974 individuals) or the combined meiofauna and macrofauna communities. Environmental drivers explained >66% of the variation among different communities and differed for the faunal size classes: for meiofauna (84.2%), sea-ice cover (1 yr) and availability of fresh food (chlorophyll a [chl a]) were most important, whereas 1 yr ice cover, chl a, and total organic carbon were decisive drivers for macrofauna (66.6%). Grain size, water depth, water-column chl a, long-term ice cover, seafloor temperature, and the carbon/nitrogen ratio influenced communities to a lesser extent. We demonstrated a stronger relationship with sea-ice cover in meiofauna communities than in macrofauna communities, and we recommend including meiofauna in future assessments of the influence of environmental changes on Southern Ocean ecosystems.

KEY WORDS: Benthos · Meiofauna · Macrofauna · Food availability · Sea-ice cover · Weddell Sea · Antarctic Peninsula · Community composition

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Cite this article as: Säring F, Veit-Köhler G, Seifert D, Liskow I, Link H (2022) Sea-ice-related environmental drivers affect meiofauna and macrofauna communities differently at large scales (Southern Ocean, Antarctic). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 700:13-37.

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