The crustacean scavenger guild in Antarctic shelf, bathyal and abyssal communities

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Abstract

Peracarid crustaceans form a significant part of the macrobenthic community that is responsible for scavenging on large food falls onto the sea floor. Although several studies are available about scavengers from tropical and temperate seas, very little information has been published about such species living in Antarctic waters, particularly at greater depths. The present paper is based on a collection of 31 baited trap sets deployed in the Weddell Sea, Scotia Sea, and off the South Shetland Islands, and presents results on the geographical and bathymetric distribution of the different taxa and on the eco-functional role of scavengers. Some 68,000 peracarid crustaceans from 62 species were collected. About 98% of individuals belonged to the amphipod superfamily Lysianassoidea, and 2% to the isopod family Cirolanidae. Of these species, 31, including 26 lysianassoids (1400 individuals), were collected deeper than 1000 m. High species richness was discerned for the eastern Weddell Sea shelf compared with other Antarctic areas. The Antarctic slope also seems to be richer in species than other areas investigated in the world, while in the abyss, scavenger species richness appears to be lower in Antarctica. A richness gradient was thus observed from the shelf to the deep. For amphipods, a number of species extend their distribution from the shelf to the slope and only one to the abyssal zone. Amphipod species showed degrees of adaptation to necrophagy. The functional adaptations of the mandible and the storage function of the gut are discussed. Feeding experiments conducted on lysianassoid species collected at great depths and maintained in aquaria showed a mean feeding rate of about 1.4-4.1% dry body weight day -1, which is consistent with data obtained from other species. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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De Broyer, C., Nyssen, F., & Dauby, P. (2004). The crustacean scavenger guild in Antarctic shelf, bathyal and abyssal communities. Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 51(14–16), 1733–1752. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2004.06.032

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