A new fishing gear was used to sample the macrozooplankton and micronekton community in the surface layer (0–2 m) under ice and in open water, the Surface and Under Ice Trawl (SUIT). In total, 57 quantitative hauls were conducted in the Lazarev Sea (Southern Ocean) during 3 different seasons (autumn 2004, winter 2006, summer 2007/2008). At least 46 species from eight phyla were caught in all 3 seasons combined. Biomass density was dominated by Antarctic krill Euphausia superba. The average biomass density was highest under the winter sea ice and lowest under the young ice in autumn. In summer, macrozooplankton biomass was dominated by ctenophores in open water and by Antarctic krill under ice. The community composition varied significantly among seasons, and according to the presence of sea ice. The response of the community composition to the presence of sea ice was influenced by species that were significantly more abundant in open water than under ice (Cyllopus lucasii, Hyperiella dilatata), only seasonally abundant under ice (Clione antarctica), or significantly associated with sea ice (Eusirus laticarpus). A number of abundant species showed distinct diel patterns in the surface occurrence both under ice and in open water, indicating that the surface layer serves as a foraging ground predominantly at night. Our results emphasize the potential of a number of non-euphausiid macrozooplankton and micronekton species to act as energy transmitters between the production of sea ice biota and the pelagic food web. By providing a regional-scale quantitative record of macrofauna under Antarctic sea ice covering 3 seasons, this study adds new and direct evidence that the ice-water interface layer is a major functional node in the ecosystem of the Antarctic seasonal sea ice zone
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