Polar Biology

, Volume 31, Issue 11, pp 1373–1382 | Cite as

Mesozooplankton biomass and indices of grazing and metabolic activity in Antarctic waters

  • S. Hernández-León
  • I. Montero
  • C. Almeida
  • A. Portillo-Hahnefeld
  • E. Bruce-Lauli
Original Paper


Mesozooplankton abundance, body area spectrum, biomass, gut fluorescence and electron transfer system (ETS) activity were studied in the Antarctic Peninsula during the post-bloom scenario in these waters. Values of abundance and biomass were rather low and decreased sharply from the slope waters to the coastal area. In contrast, specific gut fluorescence and ETS activity were high in the coastal area and decreased through the shelf-break. Large copepods were very scarce, similarly to the post-bloom conditions in phytoplankton where large cells are not abundant and small cells such as flagellates dominate the water column. The vertical distribution showed two well defined layers by day, one at the surface which corresponded to krill organisms and a second at depth (>300 m) formed mainly by the large copepod Metridia gerlachei. During the short night, this layer ascended at the time that krill at the surface migrated to deeper waters as observed from acoustics and net sampling. This observation and the absence of large copepods over the shelf suggest that krill consumption on large phytoplankton cells during the bloom is followed by an increase in predation upon mesozooplankton. It also suggests that krill decrease the abundance and biomass of mesozooplankton over the shelf and continues their predation upon mesopelagic copepods during the post-bloom in Antarctic waters. This behaviour could explain the long ago described impoverishment in mesozooplankton south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.


Zooplankton Biomass Grazing Metabolism Antarctica 



The authors are indebted to Drs. R. Anadón and M. Estrada for their invitation to participate in the Fruela Cruise. The authors would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for the suggestions and amendments made to improve the manuscript. We also thank the assistance at sea provided by the crew and technical staff of the R.V. “Hespérides”. This work was supported by the Fruela (Ant94-1010) and Icepos (Ren2002-04165) projects from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Hernández-León
    • 1
  • I. Montero
    • 1
  • C. Almeida
    • 1
  • A. Portillo-Hahnefeld
    • 1
  • E. Bruce-Lauli
    • 1
  1. 1.Biological Oceanography Laboratory, Facultad de Ciencias del MarCampus Universitario de TafiraLas Palmas de GCSpain

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