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The abundance and biomass of choanoflagellates and other nanoflagellates in waters of contrasting temperature to the north-west of South Georgia in the Southern Ocean

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The abundance and biomass of different categories of autotrophic and heterotrophic nanoflagellates were determined in surface waters along a transect crossing the Polar Front to the north-west of South Georgia in the Southern Ocean during the austral summer 1996. In the nanoflagellate community 14 choanoflagellate species and 11 other taxonomic categories were recognised. Total nanoflagellate abundance and biomass during the study varied from 4–56 × 105 litre–1 and from 3–20 μg C litre–1 respectively, with highest abundance and biomass of both autotrophic and heterotrophic nanoflagellates recorded in surface waters to the north of the Polar Front. The most common choanoflagellates were Bicosta spinifera, Calliacantha spp., Diaphanoeca pedicellata and Parvicorbicula socialis. Of these Calliacantha spp. dominated warmer waters north of the Polar Front with B. spinifera dominating colder waters to the south. Positive relationships between several nanoflagellate categories and temperature were identified but no relationships were found with either chlorophyll a or bacterial biomass. Overall the study has revealed significant differences in the abundance, biomass and quantitative importance of different taxonomic categories of nanoflagellates in offshore waters of differing physico-chemical character north and south of the Polar Front. However, the factors responsible for the distribution of nanoflagellates remain unresolved.

Keywords: Biomass; Choanoflagellates; Nanoflagellates; Southern Ocean; Temperature

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Scottish Association for Marine Science, Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory, Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA, UK; E-mail: 2: School of Biological Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK 3: British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2002


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