Response of the copepod community to a spring bloom in the Bellingshausen Sea

During Austral spring 1992, R.R.S. James Clark Ross worked a five station transect in the Bellingshausen Sea. The transect spanned unproductive waters under solid pack ice to an open-water bloom in the north, three weeks later. This paper addresses the ontogenetic development of the copepod community, and from grazing experiments on females of five species investigates their trophic response to a spring bloom. Copepods dominated the mesozooplankton in both numbers and biomass. Their mean biomass in the top 600 m was low (0.85–1.5 mg drymass m−3), which is similar to other high latitude oceanic localities in the Southern Ocean. Almost all the major copepod species underwent an ontogenetic seasonal ascent, from mainly below 250 m under the ice to the top 250 m at the open-water bloom stations. Based on the timings of migration, feeding and reproduction, the species appeared to fall into two broad categories. Firstly, the pronounced seasonal migrants, Calanoides acutus and Rhincalanus gigas, ascended from below 250 m into the top 50 m to coincide with the bloom. The few individuals of C. acutus in the surface layers prior to the bloom do not appear to have been feeding. Reproduction of R. gigas was later than that of C. acutus. Production of the second group, namely Calanus propinquus, Oithona spp. and possibly Metridia gerlachei, appeared to have been less keyed to the bloom. Their seasonal migration was less, and individuals were actively feeding prior to the bloom, albeit at rates about half of those measured during the bloom. Mass specific feeding rates of the species in this group were greater than those of C. acutus and R. gigas. In the top 250 m, carbon:nitrogen ratios of C. propinquus and M. gerlachei were less than those of R. gigas and C. acutus, which suggests less reliance on depot lipids at this time of year. Despite the cold temperatures, the mass-specific feeding rates of the five species measured were broadly comparable to summer values from more northern regions of the Southern Ocean. However, the estimated grazing impact of the copepod community at all the stations was negligible, rising to a maximum of only 8.4% of daily primary production at the most northerly bloom station. These low values result from the very low numbers of copepods in the epipelagic, particularly under the ice. Of the copepods measured, grazing was mainly by the adult female population of Oithona spp. before the bloom, and appeared to be mainly by Oithona spp. and C. acutus during the bloom.


Publication status:
Authors: Atkinson, Angus, Shreeve, Rachael S.

1 January, 1995
Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography / 42
Link to published article: