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Seasonal and spatial variations in the zooplankton community of an Eastern Antarctic coastal location

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Summary

The zooplankton community of a shallow coastal area in Eastern Antarctica was found to be one of low species diversity dominated by Copepoda. It was comprised of the more common Antarctic oceanic copepod species, medusae, molluscs, euphausiids, several copepod species associated with the ice-water interface and, in summer, benthic fauna larvae. Most species of copepods displayed a marked seasonality in abundance with peak numbers between March and May. It is proposed that several factors, including phytoplankton seasonality contribute to the zooplankton species composition, zooplankton seasonality, and to the temporal differences in the period of maximum abundance between copepod species. Annual vertical migratory behaviour in conjunction with the circulation of Prydz Bay are important determining factors for those species which can be considered as oceanic; Calanoides acutus, Calanus propinquus, Ctenocalanus citer, Metridia gerlachei, Oithona similis and Oncaea curvata. However, for copepod species which can be classified as inshore residents, such as Stephos longipes, Paralabidocera antarctica and Drepanopus bispinosus, it is their association with the ice water interface that determines their seasonal appearance and abundance. Some differences were established between the zooplankton community of the Vestfold Hills and that of other Antarctic coastal regions. This may be attributed, in part, to the extensive shallow areas of the Vestfold Hills coastal region. Spatial distribution of the zooplankton with depth and between sites was investigated and found to be essentially homogenous. When differences were established, in the majority of cases all species present, all age classes and both sexes contributed to the differences.

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Tucker, M.J., Burton, H.R. Seasonal and spatial variations in the zooplankton community of an Eastern Antarctic coastal location. Polar Biol 10, 571–579 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00239368

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00239368

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