Gutt, Julian; Teixidó, Núria (2004): Sea-floor images from during POLARSTERN cruise ANT-XV/3 to the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.755491
Transects of a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) providing sea-bed videos and photographs were carried out during POLARSTERN expedition ANT-XV/3 focussing on the ecology of benthic assemblages on the Antarctic shelf in the South-Eastern Weddell Sea. The ROV-system sprint 103 was equiped with two video- and one still camera, lights, flash-lights, compass, and parallel lasers providing a scale in the images, a tether-management system (TMS), a winch, and the board units. All cameras used the same main lense and could be tilted. Videos were recorded in Betacam-format and (film-)slides were made by decision of the scientific pilot. The latter were mainly made under the aspect to improve the identification of organisms depicted in the videos because the still photographs have a much higher optical resolution than the videos. In the photographs species larger than 3 mm, in the videos larger than 1 cm are recognisable and countable. Under optimum conditions the transects were strait; the speed and direction of the ROV were determined by the drift of the ship in the coastal current, since both, the ship and the ROV were used as a drifting system; the option to operate the vehicle actively was only used to avoide obstacles and to reach at best a distance of only approximately 30 cm to the sea-floor. As a consequence the width of the photographs in the foreground is approximately 50 cm. Deviations from this strategy resulted mainly from difficult ice- and weather conditions but also from high current velocity and local up-welling close to the sea-bed.
The sea-bed images provide insights into the general composition of key species, higher systematic groups and ecological guilds. Within interdisciplinary approaches distributions of assemblages can be attributed to environmental conditions such as bathymetry, sediment characteristics, water masses and current regimes. The images also contain valuable information on how benthic species are associated to each other. Along the transects, small- to intermediate-scaled disturbances, e.g. by grounding icebergs were analysed and further impact to the entire benthic system by local succession of recolonisation was studied. This information can be used for models predicting the impact of climate change to benthic life in the Southern Ocean. All these approaches contribute to a better understanding of the fiunctioning of the benthic system and related components of the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem. Despite their scientific value the imaging methods meet concerns about the protection of sensitive Antarctic benthic systems since they are non-invasive and they also provide valuable material for education and outreach purposes.
Gutt, Julian (2001): On the direct impact of ice on marine benthic communities, a review. Polar Biology, 24(8), 553-564, doi:10.1007/s003000100262
Gutt, Julian (2000): Some driving forces structuring communities of the sublittoral Antarctic macrobenthos. Antarctic Science, 12(3), 297-313, doi:10.1017/S0954102000000365
Gutt, Julian; Arntz, Wolf E; Balguerías, Eduardo; Brandt, Angelika; Gerdes, Dieter; Gorny, Matthias; Sirenko, Boris I (2003): Diverse approaches to questions of diversity: German contributions to benthos studies around South American and Antarctica. Gayana, 67(2), 177-189, doi:10.4067/S0717-65382003000200007
Gutt, Julian; Piepenburg, Dieter (2003): Scale-dependent impacts of catastrophic disturbances by grounding icebergs on the diversity of Antarctic benthos. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 253, 77-83, doi:10.3354/meps253077
Gutt, Julian; Starmans, Andreas (2001): Quantification of iceberg impact and benthic recolonisation patterns in the Weddell Sea (Antarctica). Polar Biology, 24(8), 615-619, doi:10.1007/s003000100263
Raguá-Gil, Juana Maria; Gutt, Julian; Clarke, Andrew; Arntz, Wolf E (2004): Antarctic shallow-water mega-epibenthos: shaped by circumpolar dispersion or local conditions? Marine Biology, 144(5), 829-839, doi:10.1007/s00227-003-1269-3