The Victoria Land Transect Cruise with the Italian research vessel "Italica", carried out in February 2004, was the first large-scale attempt to obtain benthic samples systematically along a latitudinal transect along the Antarctic Ross Sea shelf. Along the transect, samples were taken in five areas (Cape Russell, Terra Nova Bay, Coulman Island, Cape Hallet and Cape Adare) along a depth gradient ranging from 80m to 515m. Sampling was carried out using a Rauschert dredge with a mesh size of 500 µm, as the main emphasis was on smaller peracarid crustaceans. Distribution of higher taxonomic groups based on total abundance was found as follows: crustaceans (71-83%), polychaetes (12-16%), molluscs (3-7%), echinoderms (0-2%). Exceptions were the areas Cape Adare with an increased occurrence of molluscs (38%) and Coulmann Island with a mass occurrence of polychaetes (63%). The crustaceans were dominated by amphipods (32%-66%), isopods (13-30%), tanaids (4-28%), and cumaceans (<1-35%). Especially in the southernmost areas Terra Nova Bay and Cape Russel, an increase in abundance of cumaceans with increasing latitude was found. Within the cumacean fauna of the Ross Sea, the most abundant families were Leuconidae (8%-85%), Nanastacidae (10-92%) and Diastylidae (3-16%). The systematic collection of smaller crustaceans yielded a high amount of species new to the area under investigation, especially for the Peracarida. A more detailed faunal analysis of the crustaceans is presently under way.
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL4-Response of higher marine life to change