, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 491-503

The Northeast Water polynya, Greenland Sea

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Abstract

During a pilot study in June 1991 meso-and macrozooplankton investigations were carried out in the region of the Northeast Water (NEW), a polynya located off Northeast Greenland at about 80°N. The mesozooplankton collected by bongo net was dominated by the large herbivorous copepods Calanus glacialis, C. hyperboreus and C. finmarchicus. At most stations the Calanus populations consisted of overwintering stages, except for an ice-free site in the northwestern corner of the study area, where young copepodids of C. hyperboreus and C. glacialis occurred. Young C. finmarchicus were only found at stations influenced by Atlantic water masses, whereas C. glacialis was the prevailing species on the East Greenland shelf. Egg production of this species was variable, but spawning activity appeared to be related to ambient chlorophyll a concentrations. Carbon requirements of herbivorous Zooplankton were estimated from egg production rates of C. glacialis. Due to low mesoplankton biomass, a mean of only 10% (ranging from <1% to 53%) of the phytoplankton carbon were grazed. Macrozooplankton was collected at three stations by a Rectangular Midwater Trawl (RMT 1+8). Major components were chaetognaths, hyperiid amphipods and large copepods. Macroplankton biomass was extremely low (1–3 mg AFDW m−3), about one order of magnitude less than that of the mesoplankton. Based on these limited data we hypothesize that macroplankton plays only a minor role as food for higher trophic levels and as predators controlling mesoplankton in the NEW polynya. These findings seem todisprove the concept of a rich pelagic community in the polynya amongst “a desert of ice”. They do, however, fit well with the notion of strong pelago-benthic coupling of primary production supporting a rich benthos within the polynya area.