Biochemical characteristics of seafloor sediment off Austasen in the southeastern Weddell Sea were assayed in samples recovered in the early autumn and late spring of 2000 and 2003, respectively. Sediment was separated in the grain-size fractions >200 μm and <200 μm to distinguish biochemical characteristics in the fraction available for benthic suspension feeders (<200 μm). In the bulk sediment, the lipid (LPD) and carbohydrate (CHO) contents were significantly different between seasons with higher LPD content in the early autumn and higher CHO content in the late spring. In the grain-size fractions <200 μm, the LPD and protein (PRT) contents were significantly higher in the early autumn meaning that in this season the fraction available for benthic suspension feeders presented higher nutritive value. The relatively higher CHO concentrations observed in each fraction in the late spring were attributed to refractory matter, whereas the higher PRT and LPD concentrations found during the early autumn were associated with planktonic material settled after the summer phytoplankton bloom. Our results suggest that there is seasonal variation in the composition of organic matter in the sediment, with better nutritive quality in the early autumn, especially in the grain-size fraction available for benthic suspension feeders. These variations also suggest that the benthic community exploits the fresh organic matter accumulated after the summer throughout the Antarctic dark months leaving the sediment almost exhaust of LPD and with higher CHO contents, presumably of refractory nature, at the onset of the seasonal phytoplankton bloom of the following year. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2011|
- Continental shelf
- Sediment geochemistry
- Weddell Sea