The infauna of three widely distributed sponge species (Hexactinellida and Demospongiae) from the deep Ekström Shelf in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica

  • publication
  • 20-07-2014

Daniel Kersken, Christian Göcke, Angelika Brandt, Franck Lejzerowicz, Enrico Schwabe, Meike Anna Seefeldt, Gritta Veit-Köhler, Dorte Janussen.

Due to their high abundance and large body size sponges have a central position in Antarctic zoobenthos, where they form the most extensive sponge grounds of the world. Though research on Antarctic benthos communities is quite established, research on sponge-associated infauna communities is scarce. We analyzed associated infauna of fifteen individuals of the sponge species Mycale (Oxymycale) acerata Kirkpatrick, 1907 (Demospongiae: Mycalina), Rossella antarctica Carter, 1872 and R. racovitzae Topsent, 1901 (both Hexactinellida: Lyssacinosida). Samples were collected from the deep Ekström Shelf at 602 m in the South-Eastern Weddell Sea, Antarctica, during the ANT XXIV-2 (SYSTCO I) expedition of RV Polarstern. The number of species, α- and β-diversity and the significantly different species composition of infauna communities related to sponge species were calculated, the latter via cluster analysis. The sponge-associated infauna consisted of five phyla: Foraminifera, Nematoda, Polychaeta, Mollusca and Arthropoda. In total 11,463 infaunal specimens were extracted and we found at least 76 associated species. Highest values of α-diversity were calculated for a sample of R. antarctica with a Shannon-Index of 1.84 and Simpson-Index of 0.72 respectively. Our results of the cluster-analysis show significant differences between infauna communities and a unique species composition for single sponge species. Polychaetes of the genus Syllis Lamarck, 1818 were numerous in M. acerata and genera like Pionosyllis Malmgren, 1867 and Cirratulus Lamarck, 1801 were numerous in R. antarctica. Individuals of the amphipod species Seba cf. dubia Schellenberg, 1926 were often found in R. antarctica and R. racovitzae while Colomastix fissilingua Schellenberg, 1926 was frequent in samples of M. acerata. Molluscs were present in M. acerata and R. antarctica but absent in R. racovitzae.

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