Ice edges and associated water column features are key areas of increased productivity in all regions of the Arctic (Smithand Sakshaug, 1990). Stability of the water column and ice edge associated currents allow phytoplankton to be retained in a defined active photosynthetic layer at the margin of the ice (Marshall 1957). In many areas, the ice edge phytoplankton bloom follows the retreat of the ice margin, and can extend to 50 km or more from the ice edge (Smith and Sakshaug 1990). Nine arctic deep-sea stations (between 1000-5500 m depth) along this Ice Margin have been intensively sampled since the year 2000 by the Alfred-Wegener Institute with RV Polarstern and will be sampled for another 6 years. In this study meiofauna samples of the first five years are analyzed with emphasis on nematode and copepod communities which are identified up to species level. Density, biomass and length-width spectra, diversity (α-,β- and γ-diversity) are assessed and linked to biological and physical environmental variables (especially food supply). High nematode and copepod densities were found in the area due to increased sediment bound chloroplastic pigments. Topography of the area, food availability (especially bacteria) and presence of macrofaunal organisms may be important in structuring the meiofaunal communities along the bathymetric gradient. Spatial patchiness, seasonal variations in moment and intensity of the bloom and time lags in response to increased food input hamper a sound interpretation of inter-annual variations. Over 300 nematode and 20 copepod species were found, of which over 90% undescribed.
AWI Organizations > Joint Research Groups > Deep sea ecology and technology
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL7-From permafrost to deep sea in the Arctic