, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 391-401

The metazoan meiobenthos along a depth gradient in the Arctic Laptev Sea with special attention to nematode communities

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The meiobenthos along a depth transect of oligotrophic sediments in the Arctic Laptev Sea was studied. The meiobenthos followed the general trends reported from other studies: densities decreased with depth in relation to the more limited supply of degradable organic matter at greater depths. Although the sediments along the transect were poor in organic matter in comparison with the NE Atlantic, the densities fitted well with the meiobenthic densities reported from the latter area. It is suggested that the meiobenthos in the cold polar waters is adapted to this extreme environment by a rapid response to short food pulses to the sediments. Nematodes were identified up to genus level and assigned to trophic groups. A total of 32 families comprising 95 genera were found along the transect. The communities were dominated by deposit feeders whose importance increased with depth. Both TWINSPAN and CCA analyses revealed a community shift along the depth transect: a shelf community dominated by Microlaimus and Chromadora could be distinguished from a slope community dominated by Monhystera and Leptolaimus. Generic diversity decreased with depth.

Received: 15 March 1997 / Accepted: 29 June 1997