Community structure and predation impact of carnivorous macrozooplankton in the Polar Frontal Zone (Southern Ocean), with particular reference to chaetognaths

by Luká?, D.

Abstract (Summary)
The community structure and predation impact of carnivorous macrozooplankton (>2 cm; chaetognaths, medusae, ctenophores and mysids), with particular emphasis on the chaetognaths Eukrohnia hamata and Sagitta gazellae, were investigated during three surveys conducted in late austral summer (April/May) of 2001, 2004 and 2005 in the Polar Frontal Zone in the vicinity of the Prince Edward Islands (46º45’S, 37º50’E), Southern Ocean. The 2001 survey formed part of the Marion Offshore Variability Ecosystem Study (MOVES II), while the 2004 and 2005 surveys formed part of the Dynamics of Eddy Impacts on Marion’s Ecosystem study (DEIMEC III and IV respectively). Macrozooplankton samples were collected using WP-2, RMT-8 and Bongo nets. Results of the hydrographic survey indicated that the region of investigation, the Polar Frontal Zone (PFZ), is an area of high mesoscale variability. During the 2004 survey the Antarctic Polar Front (APF) and the Subantarctic Front (SAF) merged to form an intense frontal feature with subsurface temperature and salinity ranging from 8.5-7.5ºC and 34.15-33.88, respectively. A cyclonic cold core eddy, believed to have been spawned from the APF, was observed during the 2005 survey. Macrozooplankton abundance and biomass ranged from 0 to 43.731 ind. m[superscript -3], and from 0 to 41.55 mg wwt m[superscript -3] respectively, during the three surveys. Among the carnivorous macrozooplankton, chaetognaths (Eukrohnia hamata and Sagitta gazellae) were most prominent, contributing up to 85% of the total biomass during all three surveys. Elevated biomass values were found near and within the frontal feature during the 2004 survey, and also along the eddy edge during the 2005 survey. However, hierarchical cluster analysis did not reveal the presence of distinct zooplankton groupings associated with the various water masses encountered during the surveys and this is probably due to the high mesoscale variability in oceanographic conditions that are characteristic of the PFZ. The total average predation impact of the selected carnivorous macrozooplankton during the 2001, 2004 and 2005 surveys accounted for 4.93 ± 6.76%, 0.55 ± 0.51% and 4.88 ± 4.45 of the mesozooplankton standing stock, respectively. S. gazellae had the highest consumption rate in all three surveys, consuming up to 800 g Dwt 1000m[superscript -3]d[superscript -1] during the study. Of the two chaetognaths, E. hamata dominated the chaetognath standing stock. The combined abundance and biomass values of E. hamata and S. gazellae ranged from 0 to 43.73 ind. m[superscript -3] and from 0 to 41.551 mg wwt m[superscript -3] respectively, during the three surveys. Inter-annual variability in the chaetognath densities was apparent. Highest abundances and biomasses tended to be associated with specific water masses, confirming the existence of a relationship between zooplankton community structure and hydrographic conditions. Generally, about 90% of the chaetognaths contained no food in their guts. S. gazellae consumed a wider variety of prey. Oil droplets occurred in the guts of ? 51% of E. hamata. Cannibalism was low in both species, but greater in S. gazellae than E. hamata. During the three surveys, the feeding rate values of E. hamata and S. gazellae went up to 0.48 and 2.099 prey d[superscript -1] respectively. S. gazellae also had a greater predation impact on the mesozooplankton standing stock than E. hamata. The mean predation impact of the chaetognaths combined was 0.31 ± 0.291%, 0.52 ± 0.28% and 0.53 ± 0.56% of the mesozooplankton standing stock during the 2001, 2004 and 2005 surveys, respectively. During all three surveys, the majority of individuals (? 76%) of the chaetognaths were at stage I maturity, suggesting that during the time of study the chaetognaths were not reproducing. In both species a significant difference (log-linear analysis, p < 0.05) in maturities between the years investigated was observed. In general, there were no differences in lengths and maturities between the different water masses encountered during the surveys. The lengths of E. hamata and S. gazellae ranged from 5 to 24 mm and from 9.4 to 63.6 mm, respectively.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:zoology entomology


Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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