Near-bottom zooplankton communities have rarely been studied despite numerous reports of high zooplankton concentrations, probably due to methodological constraints. In Kongsfjorden, Svalbard, the near-bottom layer was studied for the first time by combining daytime deployments of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), the optical zooplankton sensor moored on-sight key species investigation (MOKI), and Tucker trawl sampling. ROV data from the fjord entrance and the inner fjord showed high near-bottom abundances of euphausiids with a mean concentration of 17.3 ± 3.5 n x 100 m^-3. With the MOKI system, we observed varying numbers of euphausiids, amphipods, chaetognaths, and copepods on the seafloor at six stations. Light-induced zooplankton swarms reached densities in the order of 90,000 (euphausiids), 120,000 (amphipods), and 470,000 ind m^-3 (chaetognaths), whereas older copepodids of Calanus hyperboreus and C. glacialis did not respond to light. They were abundant at the seafloor and 5 and 15 m above and showed maximum abundance of 65,000 ind m^-3. Tucker trawl data provided an overview of the seasonal vertical distribution of euphausiids. The most abundant species Thysanoessa inermis reached near-bottom concentrations of 270 ind m^-3. Regional distribution was neither related to depth nor to location in the fjord. The taxa observed were all part of the pelagic community. Our observations suggest the presence of near-bottom macrozooplankton also in other regions and challenge the current view of bentho–pelagic coupling. Neglecting this community may cause severe underestimates of the stock of pelagic zooplankton, especially predatory species, which link secondary production with higher trophic levels.
AWI Organizations > Biosciences > Bentho-Pelagic Processes