Nematode absolute densities and genus counts from four stations near the Antarctic Peninsula, collected with a multicorer device during POLARSTERN cruise ANT-XXIX/3 in January-March 2013

Marine free-living nematode communities were studied at similar depths (~500m) at two sides of the Antarctic Peninsula, characterised by different environmental and oceanographic conditions. At the Weddell Sea side, benthic communities are influenced by cold deep-water formation and seasonal sea-ice conditions, whereas the Drake Passage side experiences milder oceanic conditions and strong dynamics of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Surface primary productivity contrasted with observed benthic pigment patterns and varied according to the area studied: chlorophyll a concentrations (as a proxy for primary production) were high in the Weddell Sea sediments, but low in the surface waters above; this pattern was reversed in the Drake Passage. Differences between areas were largely mirrored by the nematode communities: nematode densities peaked in Weddell stations and showed deeper vertical occurrence in the sediment, associated with deeper penetration of chlorophyll a. Generic composition did not differ markedly between both areas, but rather showed distinct community shifts with depth in the sediment. This dataset contains nematode absolute densities and genus counts (based on a subset of total densities, which has been identified under a stereoscopic compound microscope) from four stations at both eastern and western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Stations metadata (data of collection, geographic location and depth) is provided as well. Each station consists of three replicate multicorer deployments, from which one core was analysed for nematode assemblages. Core sediments were divided into separate centimetre layers and all counts are presented here per cm-layer per replicate.

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