Water column features and their relationship with sediments and benthic communities along the Victoria Land coast, Ross Sea, summer 2004
The northern Victoria Land coastal marine environment was investigated during the late summer 2004, within the framework of the Latitudinal Gradient Project (LGP), to describe the physical, chemical and biological patterns of the water column and their relationship with the pelagic and benthic compartments, and to determine to what extent they change with latitude. A latitudinal gradient from Cape Adare to the Terra Nova Bay–Cape Russell area was determined on the basis of abiotic and trophic factors. Cape Adare had lower values of organic matter (particulate organic carbon < 150 μg l−1) available for the benthic communities, but this organic matter had good trophic quality. In Terra Nova Bay the particulate organic matter was quantitatively higher (organic carbon > 400 μg l−1), presumably reaching the bottom via faecal pellets, but was more detrital, although its nutritive value was still high (carbon protein content nearly 40%), as confirmed by the great quantity of phytopigments in the sediments (> 4.0 μg g−1). The benthic communities changed with latitude as well, partially reflecting the environmental and trophic gradient, but also showing a large within-area variability (except for the Cape Adare area), due to a complex array of variables that did not change with latitude.(Published Online November 14 2006)
(Received January 3 2006)
(Accepted June 19 2006)
Key Words: Antarctica; Latitudinal Gradient Project; pelagic-benthic coupling.