, Volume 33, Issue 8, pp 1131-1143
Date: 29 Apr 2010

Cnidaria from the Croker passage (Antarctic Peninsula) with a special focus on Siphonophorae

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Studies of “gelatinous” zooplankton are rather rare, and little is known about the biology and ecology of Antarctic Cnidaria, especially for siphonophores. More investigations are necessary for complementing the current information on the “gelatinous” zooplankton inhabiting this important but little know biogeographical region, especially because siphonophores very likely play a significant role in the Antarctic food chains. The species composition, abundance and vertical distribution of planktonic cnidarians in the Croker Passage were evaluated using the data obtained from three expeditions. Zooplankton were sampled with a double plankton net between 0 and 1,200 m water depth in both summer and winter seasons. In total, ten species of siphonophores and four species of medusae were identified. Siphonophore assemblages were dominated by Dimophyes arctica, Pyrostephos vanhoeffeni, and Diphyes dispar. D. arctica and D. dispar occurred in greatest numbers in summer, mainly in the upper mesopelagic zone. P. vanhoeffeni, a cryophilic species, occurred most abundantly in winter (in the lower mesopelagic zone), when they probably reproduce. Restricted circulation from the Bellingshausen Sea over the continental shelf into Croker Passage may exclude the deeper-living oceanic fauna from the area of investigation, as indicated by the low abundances of Crystallophyes amygdalina, Muggiaea sp., and Heteropyramis spp. Four species of medusae were identified. The highest abundance was noted for Solmundella bitentaculata and Arctapodema sp. These occurred most abundantly in the middle (January) and end (April) of summer.