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Nematodes community composition and environmental parameters, Eastern Antarctic Peninsula

Cite this dataset

Panto, Gabriella; Pasotti, Francesca; Macheriotou, Lara; Vanreusel, Ann (2021). Nematodes community composition and environmental parameters, Eastern Antarctic Peninsula [Dataset]. Dryad.


This study provides a snapshot of the largely understudied meiobenthic and nematode communities in the Prince Gustav Channel and Duse Bay. We compared five stations sampled at different water depths along the shelf and investigated their meiobenthic community structure. We approached nematode biodiversity comparing traditional taxonomic identification and high throughput sequencing (HTS), with the use of Amplicon Sequence Variants (ASVs). Additionally, we characterized the environment by primary production proxies, grain size and seasonal ice conditions. Our results suggest that the availability of organic matter and its freshness are responsible for the high densities found at all depths. However, potential factors influencing the high local and regional variability of meiofauna density and biodiversity are less clear. A bathymetric transect consisting of three stations in Duse Bay (200 m, 500 m and 1000 m depth) showed increasing pigment concentrations in the first centimeters of the sediment vertical profile with increasing water depth, whereas the meiofauna densities showed the opposite trend. The deepest station of Duse Bay seems to function as a sink for fine material as supported by the higher silt fraction and higher organic matter concentrations. When comparing the two basins in the Prince Gustav Channel (1000 m and 1250 m) and the one in Duse Bay (1000 m), differences in terms of environmental variables, meiofaunal densities and composition were observed. The deepest basin in Prince Gustav Channel is located further South (closer to the highly unstable Larsen area), and marked differences with the other basins suggest that it might be experiencing different conditions as a result of its presence near the summer ice margin and its more elongated topography. Both, the shallowest and the deepest stations showed the highest number of unique sequences, suggesting a more biodiverse nematode assemblage. The morphological identification did not show significant differences in the biodiversity of all stations which suggests that molecular approaches can be more efficient for biodiversity studies. However the lack of reference sequences in online databases is still an important issue to consider as it potentially leads to underestimations of biodiversity and functional traits.