Structure and grazing impact of the mesozooplankton community during late summer 1994 near South Georgia, Antarctica
Mesozooplankton abundance, community structure and grazing impact were determined during late austral summer (February/March) 1994 at eight oceanic stations near South Georgia using samples collected with a Bongo and WP-2 nets in the upper 200-m and 100-m layer, respectively. The zooplankton abundance was generally dominated by copepodite stages C3–C5 of six copepod species: Rhincalanus gigas, Calanus simillimus, Calanoides acutus, Metridia spp., Clausocalanus laticeps and Ctenocalanus vanus. Most copepods had large lipid sacs. All copepods accounted for 41–98% of total zooplankton abundance. Juvenile euphausiids were the second most important component contributing between 1 and 20% of total abundance. Pteropods, mainly Limacina inflata, were important members of the pelagic community at two sites, accounting for 44 and 53% of total abundance. Average mesozooplankton biomass in the upper 200 m was 8.0 g dry weight m−2, ranging from 4.3 to 11.5 g dry weight m−2. With the exception of Calanussimillimus, gut pigment contents and feeding activity of copepod species were low, suggesting that some species, after having stored large lipid reserves, had probably started undergoing developmental arrest. Daily mesozooplankton grazing impact, measured using in situ gut fluorescence techniques and in vitro incubations, varied widely from <1 to 8% (mean 3.5%) of phytoplankton standing stock, and from 5 to 102% (mean 36%) of primary production. The highest grazing impact was found northeast of the island co-incident with the lowest phytoplankton biomass and primary production levels.