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The cryopelagic meroplankton community in the shallow waters of Gerlache Inlet, Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica

  • Mary A. Sewell (a1), Schannel G. van Dijken (a1) and Lavinia Suberg (a1)

Limited sampling has so far been conducted of the meroplankton community of the high Antarctic, with most research being conducted using vertical hauls in waters > 50 m, and little focused research on the meroplankton community directly under the sea ice (cryopelagic). Here we report the composition of the early summer cryopelagic meroplankton community of the shallow waters of Gerlache Inlet, Terra Nova Bay. A fixed-frame stationary plankton net was deployed c. 1 m below the annual sea ice and sampled at c. 24 hour intervals over a period of 19 days from mid-November to early December 2006. A total of 173 larvae from the phyla Annelida (n = 66), Mollusca (n = 30), Nemertea (n = 4), Echinodermata (n = 8), several Pleuragramma antarcticum (n = 4) and numerous planulae (n = 61) were collected, as well as 265 egg/embryo stages. A mean of 9.1 larvae (SD = 7.3, n = 19) and 13.9 eggs/embryos (SD = 20.5, n = 19) were found directly below the sea ice in each 24 hour period, and these early life history stages may be subject to the hazards of extensive platelet ice and penetrating ultraviolet radiation. The cryopelagic meroplankton community of shallow water is also compositionally similar to that of deeper waters, suggesting that the 50–0 m plankton tows used in previous research are providing a reliable assessment of the biodiversity of coastal Antarctic meroplankton.

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Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
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