Dinoflagellate cysts from sediment traps deployed in the Bellingshausen, Weddell and Scotia seas, Antarctica
Dinoflagellate cysts have been recovered from six long-term (1–2 yr) sediment trap moorings deployed in the Bellingshausen, Weddell and Scotia seas, Antarctica. These traps, mostly moored near the sea bed to sample the nepheloid layer, were located both within and to the north of the maximum sea-ice limit. The numbers of cysts, together with the composition of the assemblages, reinforce the importance of the maximum sea-ice limit as a modern biogeographic boundary for the distribution of dinoflagellate cysts. Cysts derived from heterotrophic dinoflagellates make up the highest proportions within the assemblages recovered from the traps. One trap sampled the export production, revealing little difference in cyst flux over those sampling the nepheloid layer. Cyst flux appears to be highest in areas closest to the Antarctic Convergence, north of the maximum sea-ice limit, and to high nutrient availability. There are, however, differences between the sediment trap assemblages and those recovered from core-top samples at the same or nearby sites. These differences, in the greater number of cysts, and in the higher numbers of round, brown Protoperidinium cysts in the traps, may reflect annual differences in the primary productivity and/or cyst production in the area. In some areas the sediment record may preserve little information about local surface water productivity because of the activity of bottom water currents, for example those arising from the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.