Polar Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 689–703 | Cite as

Distribution and feeding of chaetognaths in the epipelagic zone of the Lazarev Sea (Antarctica) during austral summer

Original Paper


This study seeks to determine the effects of local hydrography on the distribution, abundance and feeding of chaetognaths in the Lazarev Sea, an area strongly controlled by physical processes which has been held responsible for initiating the Weddell Polynya. Zooplankton samples were taken at 39 stations on four transects located between 6°W and 3°E and from 60°S to 70°S between surface and 350 m. The dominant species, Eukrohnia hamata, accounted for 86.5% of all chaetognaths, followed by Sagitta gazellae (8.1%) and Sagitta marri (5.4%). These three species showed distinct vertical and horizontal distribution patterns. While E. hamata and S. marri had maximum abundances below 250 m depth, S. gazellae showed a narrow distribution band in the upper 150 m depth. The distribution pattern was strongly modified at the Greenwich meridian with an upward transport of a high abundance of deep dwelling organisms (S. marri and E. hamata) and a displacement of S. gazellae to the surface, likely coupled with the rise of the warm, saline halo around the Maud Rise. Small copepods were the main prey of all three chaetognath species. Feeding rates (FR) varied among species and depth. Sagitta marri showed the highest FR with 0.38 prey d−1, followed by S. gazellae and E. hamata (0.22 and 0.07 prey d−1). Feeding rates were usually highest in the 25–80-m stratum. Size distribution and maturity of E. hamata revealed a dominance of small and immature organisms along all depths and stations, suggesting that this area might be acting as an important source of recently spawned organisms to the surface.


Chaetognaths Feeding Southern Ocean Lazarev Sea Maud Rise 



The authors would like to thank the crew and scientists of R/V ‘Polarstern’ for their help and support during the Lazarev Sea Krill Study (LAKRIS) project. Helpful comments of Svenja Kruse and two anonymous reviewers are highly appreciated. The participation of RG was funded by a CONICYT doctoral fellowship, a DAAD fellowship and a POGO-IOC-SCOR travel-fellowship. Additional support from FONDAP-COPAS grant no. 15010007 and the Instituto Antártico Chileno made possible the post-cruise analysis of zooplankton samples grant G12-09.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y LimnológicasUniversidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  2. 2.Centro COPAS de Oceanografía y Centro BASAL COPAS Sur-AustralUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  3. 3.Centro de Investigación de Ecosistemas de la Patagonia (CIEP)CoyhaiqueChile

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