Benthos activity, abundance and biomass in surface sediments off Morocco, Northwest Africa, supplement to: Pfannkuche, Olaf; Theeg, R; Thiel, Hjalmar (1983): Benthos activity, abundance and biomass under an area of low upwelling off Morocco, Northwest Africa. Meteor Forschungsergebnisse, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Reihe D Biologie, Gebrüder Bornträger, Berlin, Stuttgart, D36, 85-96


Macro- and meiobenthic abundance and biomass as well as metabolic activity (respiration, ETS activity) have been studied along a transect ranging from 130 to 3000 m water depth off northern Morocco (35° N) during "Meteor" cruise No. 53 (1980). The distribution of chloroplastic pigment concentration (chlorophyll a, pheophytins) in the sediment has been investigated as a measure of sedimented primary organic matter.High chloroplastic pigment concentrations were found on the shelf and around the shelf break, but values declined rapidly between 200 and 600 m depth. Below 1200 m pigment concentrations remained at a relatively uniform low level.Macrobenthic abundance and biomass (wet weight) decreased with increasing water depth and with distance from the shore. Significant changes occurred between the shelf and upper slope and below 2000 m depth. Meiobenthic abundance and biomass (ash free dry weight) followed the same general pattern, but changes were found below 400 and 800 m depth. In the depth range of 1200 to 3000 m values differ only slightly. Meiofauna abundance and biomass show a good correlation with the sedimentary chloroplastic pigment concentrations.Respiratory activity of sediment cores, measured by a shipboard technique at ambient temperatures, decreased with water depth and shows a good correlation with the pigment concentrations. ETS activity was highest on the shelf and decreased with water depth, with significant changes between 200 and 400 m, and below 1200 m depth, respectively. Activity was generally highest in the top 5 cm of the sediment and was measurable, at all stations, down to 15 cm sediment depth.Shelf and upper slope stations exhibited a vertical distribution pattern of ETS activity in the sediment column, different from that of deeper stations. The importance of biological activity measurements as an estimate of productivity is discussed.To prove the thesis that differences in benthic abundance, biomass and activity reflect differences in pelagic surface primary production, in the case of the NW-African coast caused by different upwelling intensities, the values from 35° N were compared with data from 21° N (permanent upwelling activity) and 17° N (ca. 9 months upwelling per year). On the shelf and upper slope (< 500 m) hydrographical conditions (currents, internal waves) influence the deposition of organic matter and cause a biomass minimum between 200 and 400 m depth in some regions. But, in general, macrobenthic abundance and biomass increases with enhanced upwelling activity and reaches a maximum in the area off Cape Blanc (21° N). On the shelf and in the shelf break region meiofauna densities are higher at 35° N in comparison to 21° N; but in contrast to the decreasing meiofauna abundance with increasing water depth at 35° N, an abundance maximum between 400 and 1200 m depth is formed in the Cape Blanc region; this maximum coincides with the maximum of sedimentary chloroplastic pigment equivalents.The comparison of ETS activities between 35° N and 21° N shows on the shelf activity at 21° N is up to 14 times higher and on the slope 4-9 times higher, which demonstrates that benthic activity responds to the surface productivity regime.

Metadata Access
Creator Pfannkuche, Olaf; Theeg, R; Thiel, Hjalmar
Publisher PANGAEA - Data Publisher for Earth & Environmental Science
Publication Year 1983
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Supplementary Collection of Datasets
Format application/zip
Size 2 datasets
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (-8.403W, 34.795S, -6.580E, 34.978N); off West Africa
Temporal Coverage Begin 1980-03-18T00:00:00Z
Temporal Coverage End 1980-03-23T00:00:00Z