Meiobenthic biodiversity of the formerly iceshelf-covered Larsen A and B areas west of the Antarctic Peninsula


Dr. Armin Rose 
Senckenberg am Meer
Deutsches Zentrum für Marine Biodiversitätsforschung

project description

This project aims at studying the response of meiobenthic communities to climate change in a most drastically affected area of our planet, the Antarctic Peninsula. In this region it makes use of a unique natural experiment: the recent break-up of the Antarctic Larsen A and B iceshelves between 1995 and 2002, caused by strong regional warming. As an initial study the project will be crucial for future research on climateinduced meiofaunal changes (meiofauna: organisms smaller than 1 mm size) in this region. Focussing on harpacticoid copepods, meiobenthic assemblages from inside the former ice shelves will be compared to those near former ice margins and outside the iceshelf-covered areas. Here it is of special ecological interest whether meiobenthic shelf assemblages of the low-productive inner Larsen B area resemble those of the Antarctic deep sea, for which some evidence exists regarding the macrobenthos. Furthermore, the meiobenthos of a cold seep (a spot where methane and sulphide seeps from the sea ground) recently discovered in the Larsen B area, the first one known from the Antarctic shelf, is to be studied. In order to gain detailed insight into the meiofaunal diversity of the region, multiscale sampling was performed; by this it will be possible to assess diversity on different scales and to obtain more realistic estimates on overall diversity than it was often the case in the past. The project will not only help to understand meiobenthic colonisation in Antarctic waters after iceshelf disintegration events caused by climate change. It will also provide interesting new facts for discussions on the productivity-diversity hypothesis and the acting of biodiversity on different spatial and taxonomical scales.

DFG-Verfahren: Infrastruktur-Schwerpunktprogramme

term from 2008 to 2012