Horizontal distribution patterns of macrobenthos were studied based on material collected at the deep-sea long-term observatory HAUSGARTEN off West Spitsbergen (79°N) during the RV Polarstern expedition ARK XIX/3c in July-August 2003. Macofauna was obtained at water depths between 2500 and 2600 m. Samples were arranged using a hierarchical approach to analyze benthic fauna distribution at different scales. Three stations were performed along the 26 km transect. Three giant box-corers (0.25 m²) were taken at each station. Five subcores (12.5ґ12.5 cm) were extracted from each box corer. Total macrofauna biomasses varied from 2.31 g ww m2 to 6.41 g ww m2, and densities ranged from 1976 ind. m2 to 3254 ind. m2. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of statistical analysis confirmed that all samples belong to one benthic community with the dominant species complex Tetractinomorpha gen.sp. K_Diastylis K_polaris K_Myriochele K_heeri K_Galathowenia K_fragilis. The inner heterogeneity in species relative abundance and composition was found at a sub-community level. Multivariate analysis showed the division of all samples into two clear groups on the subcore and corer levels. The set of species at the lowest examined level (i.e. in a subcore) allowed the identification of two types of benthic sub-communities. The size of these sub-communities appeared to be not less than several km across. The hierarchical organization of benthic communities on the continental slope off Spitsbergen includes at least two levels: communities, which replace each other along the depth gradient (Wlodarska-Kowalczuk et al. 2004), and sub-communities which make up the orthogonal inner mosaics in each vertical zone. Wlodarska-Kowalczuk, M., M.A. Kendall, J.-M. Weslawski, M. Klages, T. Soltwedel. 2004. Depth gradients of benthic standing stock and diversity on the continental margin at a high latitude ice-free site (off West Spitsbergen, 79°N). Deep-Sea Research I, 51: 1903-1914.
AWI Organizations > Biosciences > Joint Research Group: Deep Sea Ecology and Technology
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL7-From permafrost to deep sea in the Arctic