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Seasonal variations in distribution patterns of sympagic meiofauna in Arctic pack ice
Schunemann, H.; Werner, I. (2005). Seasonal variations in distribution patterns of sympagic meiofauna in Arctic pack ice. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 146(6): 1091-1102.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Schunemann, H.
  • Werner, I.

    During two expeditions of the R.V. “Polarstern” to the Arctic Ocean, pack ice and under-ice water samples were collected during two different seasons: late summer (September 2002) and late winter (March/April 2003). Physical and biological properties of the ice were investigated to explain seasonal differences in species composition, abundance and distribution patterns of sympagic meiofauna (in this case: heterotrophs >20 µm). In winter, the ice near the surface was characterized by extreme physical conditions (minimum ice temperature: -22°C, maximum brine salinity: 223, brine volume: =5%) and more moderate conditions in summer (minimum ice temperature: -5.6°C, maximum brine salinity: 94, most brine volumes: =5%). Conditions in the lowermost part of the ice did not differ to a high degree between summer and winter. Chlorophyll a concentrations (chl a) showed significant differences between summer and winter: during winter, concentrations were mostly <1.0 µg chl a l-1, while chl a concentrations of up to 67.4 µmol l-1 were measured during summer. The median of depth-integrated chl a concentration in summer was significantly higher than in winter. Integrated abundances of sympagic meiofauna were within the same range for both seasons and varied between 0.6 and 34.1×103 organisms m-2 in summer and between 3.7 and 24.8×103 organisms m-2 in winter. With regard to species composition, a comparison between the two seasons showed distinct differences: while copepods (42.7%) and rotifers (33.4%) were the most abundant sea-ice meiofaunal taxa during summer, copepod nauplii dominated the community, comprising 92.9% of the fauna, in winter. Low species abundances were found in the under-ice water, indicating that overwintering of the other sympagic organisms did not take place there, either. Therefore, their survival strategy over the polar winter remains unclear.

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