Mesozooplankton biomass, abundance and community composition in the Ross Sea and the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean
The coupling between the seasonal distribution of dominant Oithonidae and Oncaeidae and the prevailing environmental conditions in the eastern Weddell Sea was investigated. In samples from February, a community on the shelf and in the oceanic surface layer, consisting mainly of Oithona similis and Oncaea curvata and juveniles of both genera, could be differentiated from a community found in deeper oceanic waters, consisting of Oithona frigida, Oncaea parila, Oncaea antarctica and Oncaea englishi. In November the differences in the species distribution between the two regions were less pronounced and the abundances of all species were much lower than earlier in the year. The dominant species were Oithona similis, which reached abundances of up to 182/m3 in February, and Oncaea curvata with up to 215/m3. Deeper living species were comparatively rare. Oithona similis occurred mainly in the top 200 m during both seasons. The other species, by contrast, were generally deeper and more dispersed through the water column in late winter than in summer.