Meiofauna communities along a depth transect off Halley Bay (Weddell Sea-Antarctica)
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Meiofauna communities from 10 stations along a depth transect from approximately 500 to 2,000 m off the Halley Bay Station (Weddell Sea) are investigated. Representatives of about 30 smallsized taxa of higher category are found, most of them belonging to the meiofauna. Loricifera are recorded for the first time for the Southern Ocean. At one of the stations a maximum of 22 taxa occur, the mean number of taxa ranges from 7 to 16. Nematoda, Harpacticoida, Ostracoda, Polychaeta and Bivalvia are present at all sampling sites. Nematodes are always dominant representing more than 90% of the individuals per sample, followed by harpacticoids (3%) and kinorhynchs (1.2%). Important fractions of the meiofauna (an average of more than 50%) occur in strata below the top 0–1 cm layer. Maximal density is 3,800 individuals (10 cm−2), the mean abundance per station ranges from 790 to 3,720 individuals (10 cm−2) and the overall mean is 1,700 individuals (10 cm−2). Multivariate analysis (TWINSPAN, Cluster analysis, DCA) discriminates between three communities which are correlated with depth and sediment characteristics: the near shelf-ice, the slope and the deep-sea communities.
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