Scientia Marina, Vol 77, No 3 (2013)

Transfer of seston lipids during a flagellate bloom from the surface to the benthic community in the Weddell Sea

Sergio Rossi
Environmental Science and Technology Institute, Autonomous University of Barcelona , Spain

Enrique Isla
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) , Spain

Alfredo Martínez-García
Geologisches Institut NO G 55 , Spain

Núria Moraleda
Environmental Science and Technology Institute, Autonomous University of Barcelona , Spain

Josep María Gili
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) , Spain

Antoni Rosell-Melé
Environmental Science and Technology Institute, Autonomous University of Barcelona - Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA) , Spain

Wolf E. Arntz
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research , Spain

Dieter Gerdes
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research , Spain


Total lipid and fatty acid concentrations were studied in a late spring-early summer flagellate-dominated bloom in the Weddell Sea. These indicators were considered a good tool for assessing the quality of organic matter settling from surface to deep-water layers (epibenthic water layers). The results showed different patterns between the early (11-15 December 2003) and the late sampling period (18-27 December 2003) at all studied depths (5 m, 50 m and near-bottom water layers). Low phytoplankton biomass (mainly flagellates) in the first half of the study corresponded to low total lipid and fatty acid concentrations. In the second sampling period a spring bloom (mainly flagellates and diatoms) was detected, increasing the total lipid and fatty acid concentrations in the water column. The amount of settling organic matter from surface waters to the near-bottom water layers was high, especially in the late sampling period. Trophic markers showed evidence of a sink of available organic matter rich in quality and quantity, especially in terms of polyunsaturated fatty acids, for benthic organisms from surface layers to bottom layers in only a few days. The importance of studying short-time cycles in order to detect organic matter availability for benthic biota in view of the pulse-like dynamics of primary production in Antarctic waters is discussed.


Antarctica; seston; lipids; fatty acids; benthic-pelagic coupling; available food

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