Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 3, pp 609–623 | Cite as

The tunicate Salpa thompsoni ecology in the Southern Ocean. I. Distribution, biomass, demography and feeding ecophysiology

  • E. A. PakhomovEmail author
  • C. D. Dubischar
  • V. Strass
  • M. Brichta
  • U. V. Bathmann
Research Article


Distribution, density, and feeding dynamics of the pelagic tunicate Salpa thompsoni have been investigated during the expedition ANTARKTIS XVIII/5b to the Eastern Bellingshausen Sea on board RV Polarstern in April 2001. This expedition was the German contribution to the field campaign of the Southern Ocean Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics Study (SO-GLOBEC). Salps were found at 31% of all RMT-8 and Bongo stations. Their densities in the RMT-8 samples were low and did not exceed 4.8 ind m−2 and 7.4 mg C m−2. However, maximum salp densities sampled with the Bongo net reached 56 ind m−2 and 341 mg C m−2. A bimodal salp length frequency distribution was recorded over the shelf, and suggested two recent budding events. This was also confirmed by the developmental stage composition of solitary forms. Ingestion rates of aggregate forms increased from 2.8 to 13.9 μg (pig) ind−1 day−1 or from 0.25 to 2.38 mg C ind−1 day−1 in salps from 10 to 40 mm oral-atrial length, accounting for 25–75% of body carbon per day. Faecal pellet production rates were on average 0.08 pellet ind−1 h−1 with a pronounced diel pattern. Daily individual egestion rates in 13 and 30 mm aggregates ranged from 0.6 to 4.8 μg (pig) day−1 or from 164 to 239 μg C day−1. Assimilation efficiency ranged from 73 to 90% and from 65 to 76% in 13 and 30 mm aggregates, respectively. S. thompsoni exhibited similar ingestion and egestion rates previously estimated for low Antarctic (~50°S) habitats. It has been suggested that the salp population was able to develop in the Eastern Bellingshausen Sea due to an intrusion into the area of the warm Upper Circumpolar Deep Water


Particulate Organic Carbon Faecal Pellet Antarctic Krill Pigment Ratio Solitary Form 
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We are grateful to the University of Fort Hare (South Africa), the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (Germany), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany) and the University of British Columbia (Canada) for providing funds and facilities, which allowed conducting and completing this study. The professional and friendly support at sea by colleagues, the Captain and the crew of the RV Polarstern during the ANTATKTIS XVIII/5b cruise is greatly appreciated. B. Cisewski, H. Borth, B. Rabe, K. Rinas and C. Radke contributed to collecting the CTD data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. A. Pakhomov
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • C. D. Dubischar
    • 2
  • V. Strass
    • 2
  • M. Brichta
    • 2
  • U. V. Bathmann
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Ocean SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyUniversity of Fort HareAlice South Africa

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