Distribution of six major copepod species around South Georgia during an austral winter

A net sampling survey was conducted around the island of South Georgia during July/August 1983. This study compares the age structure and vertical and horizontal distributions of the dominant copepods Calanoides acutus, Calanus simillimus, C. propinquus, Rhincalanus gigas, Metridia lucens and M. gerlachei. The chief physical and biological factors affecting the distributions of these species are assessed and the results are compared with those from a similar survey around the island carried out in early summer (1981/1982). The survey grid lay within the Polar Front during the winter survey, and horizontal changes in copepod abundance corresponded well to the temperature gradient across the front. This pattern was interrupted by the South Georgia shelf where the seasonal migrants (Calanoides acutus, Rhincalanus gigas and Calanus simillimus) occurred in high abundance. The concentration of these migrants over the shelf relative to the oceanic surface layer was attributed to the shelf having prevented their seasonal migration. Within the oceanic area the copepods occupied differing depths, with Calanoides acutus and Metridia gerlachei living deeper than Calanus simillimus, C. propinquus and M. lucens. The populations also tended to live deeper in the warmer (NW) portion of the oceanic survey area. In contrast to the summer survey the age structure of each species showed little variation throughout the survey area. This was attributed mainly to the decreased rates of copepod growth and metabolism in winter.


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Authors: Atkinson, Angus

1 November, 1989
Polar Biology / 10
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