Seasonal fluctuations of vagile benthos in the uppermost sublittoral of a maritime Antarctic fjord
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Quantitative samples of benthos were taken on a stony beach in the maritime Antarctic (Admiralty Bay, King George Island, South Shetland Islands) during a complete annual cycle. The sampled habitat consisted of cobbles lying on sand and gravel in the fringe between the littoral and sublittoral zones; samples were always taken at low tide just below the water line. In this habitat, abundant macroalgal detritus was observed between stones. This stony beach appeared to be very rich in vagile fauna settled between and under stones. Macrobenthos consisted mainly of amphipods (ca. 85% of total number), gastropods (11%) and nemerteans (3%). The abundance of whole macrofauna ranged to over 50,000 ind. m–2 and its biomass over 600 g m–2 (FW). Seven species of Amphipoda and four species of Gastropoda were found. Amphipoda were dominated by Gondogeneia antarctica (over 70% of all amphipods) and Paramoera edouardi (over 20%), whereas among gastropods Laevilitorina antarctica prevailed (over 70%). Unexpectedly high abundance and biomass of Amphipoda were observed in the first half of winter (May/July), surpassing otherwise important summer amphipod abundance. The probable reason for this phenomenon could be high autumn abundance of decaying algae on the beach in the tidal zone, providing detritus that is probably the main food source for Amphipoda.
KeywordsBiomass Beach Gravel Detritus Cobble
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