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Community structure of the epipelagic zooplankton community under the sea-ice of the northern Weddell Sea

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The present paper describes the composition, abundance, biomass and diversity of the meso- and macrozooplankton in the epipelagic zone of the open water and under the ice of the northern Weddell Sea. Samples were collected in October/November 1988 with a multiple RMT1+8 net during the European Polarstern Study (EPOS). Multivariate analysis resulted in two distinct site clusters, a northern one mainly located in the open water/marginal ice zone and a southern one extending from the marginal ice zone into the consolidated pack-ice. Clusters were, however, faunistically coherent with a high degree in positive covariation of species. There was no basis for the separation into communities, but differences occurred on the population level in numerical abundances, biomass (wet weight) and in a shift in species dominance. Different ice zones and vertical layers were tested among each other with regard to their relative species abundance. Significant differences were found between the upper 60 m layer of the open sea, the upper 60 m layer of the closed pack-ice and the so called transitional zone. Species richness and diversity was lowest directly under the closed pack-ice. Abundance and biomass was highest in the surface layer of the open water, while both variablès decreased dramatically under the ice. Copepods dominated numerically in open water, while salps dominated in biomass. Euphausia superba and Thysanoessa macrura were the dominant species in the upper water column of the closed pack-ice zone. Krill was the only species with increasing abundance in the sub-ice area and a dominance in biomass of more than 91% demonstrated its unique importance for the sub-ice habitat.

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Data presented here were collected during the European Polarstern Study (EPOS) sponsored by the European Science Foundation

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Siegel, V., Skibowski, A. & Harm, U. Community structure of the epipelagic zooplankton community under the sea-ice of the northern Weddell Sea. Polar Biol 12, 15–24 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00239961

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  • Biomass
  • Meso
  • Open Water
  • Transitional Zone
  • Zooplankton Community