The meiobenthos of the Molloy Deep (5600 m), Fram Strait, Arctic Ocean

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The meiobenthos (including foraminiferans) of the Molloy Deep (Fram Strait, Arctic Ocean) was studied along a 15 km transect crossing the deep in NW-SE direction. Four stations between 5416 and 5569 m water depth were sampled during summer months between 1997 and 2001. In comparison with other abyssal and hadal regions of the World Ocean, meiofauna abundances were extremely high, ranging from 2153 to 2968 ind. / 10 cm² (values for the uppermost 5 cm of the sediments). The analysis of biogenic sediment compounds (e.g. chloroplastic pigments, particulate proteins) confirmed comparably high amounts of organic matter in the sediments, presumably favouring increased faunal densities and biomasses. Subsurface peaks in meiobenthic abundances at 1 - 2 cm sediment depth are most probably due to substantial disturbance and/or predation by dense herds of small holothurians (Elpidia glacialis), obviously inhabiting the entire Molloy Deep in very high numbers. Faunal composition of the meiobenthic community of the Molloy Deep was similar to other deep-sea regions. Foraminiferans were the dominant taxa of the total meiobenthos (48.5 - 59.9 %), whereas nematodes dominated the metazoan meiofauna (91.7 - 95.8 %). The total meiofauna of the Molloy Deep consisted of relatively small organisms compared to other/shallower oceanic regions, which could not be explained by reduced food availability to the benthos.

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Soltwedel, T. , Miljutina, M. , Mokievsky, V. , Thistle, D. and Vopel, K. (2003): The meiobenthos of the Molloy Deep (5600 m), Fram Strait, Arctic Ocean , Vie et milieu-life and environment, 53 (1), pp. 1-13 .

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