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Antarctic deep-sea meiofauna and bacteria react to the deposition of particulate organic matter after a phytoplankton bloom

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Veit-Köhler, G. , Guilini, K. , Peeken, I. , Sachs, O. , Sauter, E. J. and Würzberg, L. (2011): Antarctic deep-sea meiofauna and bacteria react to the deposition of particulate organic matter after a phytoplankton bloom , Deep-Sea Research Part II-Topical Studies in Oceanography, 58 (19-20), pp. 1983-1995 . doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2011.05.008
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Abstract:

During the RV Polarstern ANT XXIV-2 cruise to the Southern Ocean and the Weddell Sea in 2007/2008, sediment samples were taken during and after a phytoplankton bloom at 521S 01E. The station, located at 2960 m water depth, was sampled for the first time at the beginning of December 2007 and revisited at the end of January 2008. Fresh phytodetritus originating from the phytoplankton bloom first observed in the water column had reached the sea floor by the time of the second visit. Absolute abundances of bacteria and most major meiofauna taxa did not change between the two sampling dates. In the copepods, the second most abundant meiofauna taxon after the nematodes, the enhanced input of organic material did not lead to an observable increase of reproductive effort. However, significantly higher relative abundances of meiofauna could be observed at the sediment surface after the remains of the phytoplankton bloom reached the sea floor. Vertical shifts in meiofauna distribution between December and January may be related to changing pore-water oxygen concentration, total sediment fatty acid content, and pigment profiles measured during our study. Higher oxygen consumption after the phytoplankton bloom may have resulted from an enhanced respiratory activityof the living benthic component, as neither meiofauna nor bacteria reacted with an increase in individual numbers to the food input from the water column. Based on our results, we infer that low temperatures and ecological strategies are the underlying factors for the delayed response of benthic deep-sea copepods, in terms of egg and larval production, to the modified environmental situation.

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