Potter Cove, west Antarctic Peninsula, shallow water meiofauna: a seasonal snapshot
The meiobenthic community of Potter Cove (King George Island, west Antarctic Peninsula) was investigated, focusing on responses to summer/winter conditions in two study sites contrasting in terms of organic matter inputs. Meiofaunal densities were found to be higher in summer and lower in winter, although this result was not significantly related to the in situ availability of organic matter in each season. The combination of food quality and competition for food amongst higher trophic levels may have played a role in determining the standing stocks at the two sites. Meiobenthic winter abundances were sufficiently high to infer that energy sources were not limiting during winter, supporting observations from other studies for both shallow water and continental shelf Antarctic ecosystems. Recruitment within meiofaunal communities was coupled to the seasonal input of fresh detritus for harpacticoid copepods but not for nematodes, suggesting that species-specific life history or trophic features form an important element of the responses observed.