, Volume 24, Issue 10, pp 724-728

Meiofauna in sea ice of the Weddell Sea (Antarctica)

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Abstract.

Sea-ice meiofauna was studied during various cruises to the Weddell Sea. Foraminifers dominate (75%) the sea-ice community in terms of numerical abundance while turbellarians dominate (45%) in terms of biomass. Distribution of organisms is patchy and varies considerably between cruises but also between sampling sites within one cruise. The bulk of the meiofauna is concentrated in the lowest parts of the sea ice, especially during winter and autumn. However, in porous summer sea ice, sympagic organisms also occur in high densities in upper and intermediate layers of sea ice. Proto- and metazoans associated with Antarctic sea ice include organisms actually living in sea ice, as well as those on the underside of floes and in the underlying water. The sea-ice habitat serves as a feeding ground, as well as an important nursery for juveniles, providing energy-rich food resources. The ice also constitutes a shelter from predators.

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