Polar Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 9, pp 1359–1373 | Cite as

Abundance and distribution of invertebrate larvae in the Bellingshausen Sea (West Antarctica)

  • J. AmeneiroEmail author
  • B. Mouriño-Carballido
  • J. Parapar
  • E. Vázquez
Original Paper


The central part of the Bellingshausen Sea has been poorly studied, partly because of the presence of ice during most of the year. The main aim of this study was to analyse the abundance and distribution of meroplankton, and the influence of oceanographic properties were investigated in the Bellingshausen Sea (West Antarctica) during the BENTART-06 cruise carried out in January–February 2006. Zooplankton samples were collected with a 80-μm mesh plankton net hauled vertically from a depth of 200 m to the surface at fifteen stations across the Bellingshausen Sea. Fifteen types of larval benthic invertebrates were found, with echinospira and nudibranch veligers being the most abundant. Hierarchical analysis and non-metric multidimensional scaling revealed a high degree of spatial variability in both larval abundance and larval types across the Bellingshausen Sea. The variability was significantly correlated with total chlorophyll-a and the contribution of large (>5 μm) phytoplankton to total chlorophyll, indicating the availability of food as an important factor determining the larval distribution observed. Nudibranch veligers, nemertean pilidia, echinoderm and planula larvae were more abundant at stations in the central Bellingshausen Sea, which was characterized by low phytoplankton biomass and production. Higher abundances of echinospira veligers and polychaete larvae were found at the more productive stations close to Peter I Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. The abundance and diversity of larval types found in the Bellingshausen Sea during the BENTART-06 cruise support the hypothesis that indirect development through larval swimming stages plays a key role in benthic recruitment in polar areas.


Bellingshausen Sea Antarctica Invertebrate larvae Distribution Diversity 



The authors thank A. Ramos, leader of the Spanish BENTART Project, for support for this study during the expedition, and J. Troncoso (Univ. Vigo), F. García (Univ. Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla), Mª Eugenia Manjón (Univ. Malaga), Jordi Corbera, Francina Moya (Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Málaga) and Pilar Ríos for their help in collecting the samples. We extend our thanks to all the scientists participating in the BENTART-06 cruise, officers, crew and UTM technicians of the RV Hespérides for their invaluable help. The authors also thank J. Pearse and another two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped us to improve the final paper. The study is a result of the BENTART Project sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology (CGL2004/01856). J. Ameneiro was in receipt of a grant from the MEC (Project CTM2008-06343-C02), and B. Mouriño-Carballido was financially supported by the MICINN-RYC program.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Ameneiro
    • 1
    Email author
  • B. Mouriño-Carballido
    • 1
  • J. Parapar
    • 2
  • E. Vázquez
    • 1
  1. 1.Dpt. Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Facultade de Ciencias do MarUniversidade de VigoVigoSpain
  2. 2.Dpt. Bioloxía Animal, Bioloxía Vexetal e Ecoloxía, Facultade de CienciasUniversidade da CoruñaA CoruñaSpain

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