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Abstract

The population structure, seasonal and diel changes in vertical distribution of two siphonophore species, Dimophyes arctica and Pyrostephos vanhoeffeni , in Croker Passage (Antarctic Peninsula) are examined, and compared with the results obtained by other au− thors in various oceanic areas. Zooplankton samples were taken at discrete depth intervals between 0 and 1200 m during day and night shifts, in both summer and winter seasons. Dimophyes arctica was present both in polygastric and eudoxid forms, with the latter being dominant throughout the entire study period. The results obtained demonstrate that Antarctic waters clearly enhance the reproductive ability of this species when compared with specimens from other oceanic regions. Maximum densities of Dimophyes arctica were recorded in December in the 200–400 m depth horizon. However, high concentrations of eudoxids were also recorded at deeper parts of the water column. Pyrostephos vanhoeffeni was, in contrast, most abundant in autumn and winter, and both species were found to proliferate and disperse or sink further down the water column during autumn and winter. Daily vertical migration was observed only during the summer period.
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Abstract

Dynamic climate changes have become noticeable in recent decades, especially in the vulnerable region of the West Antarctic. The relatively simple food web of this area relies on krill – Euphausia superba . Presumably, as a result of climatic fluctuations, a de− crease in the number of this crustacean has been recorded, followed by an increase in the population of the gelatinous zooplankter Salpa thompsoni . In the research presented herein, population and morphometric analyses of Salpa thompsoni have been conducted. Specimens for this research were collected from the Drake Passage, using a Bongo net in the summer season of 2010. It has been found that the horizontal distribution of this gelatinous zooplankter was significantly irregular (Kruskal−Wallis test, p < 0.001). In the northern part of the investigated area, both blastozooids and oozooids were recorded, which confirms the dynamic development of this species. The central part of the Drake Passage was characterized by the dominance of blastozooids, with embryos found at different stages of the development. Only in the region of the South Shetland Islands, the salpid population was characterized by reduced or even stopped reproduction. The immense reproductive efficiency observed in the Salpa thompsoni population was mostly induced by the favourable thermal conditions. These observations may suggest that the ongoing climat changes in the West Antarctic will promote the population expansion of this species.
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