The annual cycle of planktonic ciliates in nearshore waters at Signy Island, Antarctica
The abundance and biomass of marine planktonic ciliates in Borge Bay, Signy Island, were determined at monthly intervals between April 1990 and June 1991. At least 24 different ciliate taxa were recorded from samples preserved in Lugol's iodine, including the tintinnids Codonellopsis balechi, Cymalocylis convallaria, Laackmaniella naviculaefera and Salpingella sp., and the aloricate taxa Didinium sp. and Mesodinium rubrum. Ciliate abundance and biomass exhibited a clear seasonal cycle with high values during the austral summer and low values in the austral winter. Abundance ranged from 0.3 × 103l−1 in September to 2.3 × 103l−1 in January, while biomass ranged from 0.5 μg C l−1 in October to 12.6 μg C l−1 in December. Small ciliates dominated abundance throughout the year, and biomass during winter. Larger ciliates contributed most to biomass during summer. Aloricate ciliates were common throughout the year, while tintinnids contributed substantially to abundance and biomass only during summer. Salpingella sp. was the commonest tintinnid, but C.convallaria contributed most to tintinnid biomass. The seasonal pattern of ciliate abundance and biomass matched that of chlorophyll a concentration and bacterial biomass, suggesting tight trophic coupling between ciliates and other components of the pelagic microbial community.