The spring mesozooplankton community at South Georgia: a comparison of shelf and oceanic sites

Mesozooplankton (predominantly 200–2000 μm) were sampled at a shelf and an oceanic station close to South Georgia, South Atlantic, during austral spring (October/November) 1997. Onshelf zooplankton biomass was extremely high at 10–16 g dry mass m−2 (0–150 m), 70% comprising the small neritic clausocalaniid copepod Drepanopus forcipatus. Large calanoid species, principally Calanoides acutus and Rhincalanus gigas, contributed only 8–10%. At the oceanic station, biomass in the sampled water column (0–1000 m) was ∼6.5 g dry mass m−2 and 4–6 g dry mass m−2 in the top 200 m. Here, large calanoids composed 40–50% of the standing stock. Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) occurred in low abundances at both stations. Vertical profiles obtained with a Longhurst Hardy Plankton Recorder indicated that populations of C. acutus and R. gigas, which overwinter at depth, had completed their spring ascent and were resident in surface waters. Dry mass, carbon and lipid values were lower than found in summer but were consistent with overwintered populations. Phytoplankton concentrations were considerably higher at the oceanic station (2–3 mg chlorophyll a m−3) and increased over the time on station. In response to this, egg production of both large calanoid species and growth rates of R. gigas approached those measured in summer. Onshelf phytoplankton concentrations were lower (<1 mg m−3), and low egg production rates suggested food limitation. Here phytoplankton rations equivalent to 6% zooplankton body C would have been sufficient to clear primary production whereas at the oceanic station daily carbon fixation was broadly equivalent to zooplankton carbon biomass.


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Authors: Ward, Peter, Shreeve, Rachael S.

1 January, 1999
Polar Biology / 22
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