MEPS 344:29-37 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps06966

History of benthic colonisation beneath the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica

Alexandra L. Post1,*, Mark A. Hemer1, Philip E. O'Brien1, Donna Roberts2, Mike Craven3

1Marine and Coastal Environment Group, Geoscience Australia, GPO Box 378, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
2Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
3Australian Antarctic Division and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre, Private Bag 80, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia

ABSTRACT: This study presents compelling evidence for a diverse and abundant seabed community that developed over the course of the Holocene beneath the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. Fossil analysis of a 47 cm long sediment core revealed a rich modern fauna dominated by filter feeders (sponges and bryozoans). The down-core assemblage indicated a succession in the colonisation of this site. The lower portion of the core (before ~9600 yr BP) was completely devoid of preserved fauna. The first colonisers (at ~10200 yr BP) were mobile benthic organisms. Their occurrence was matched by the first appearance of planktonic taxa, indicating a retreat of the ice shelf following the last glaciation to within sufficient distance to advect planktonic particles via bottom currents. The benthic infauna and filter feeders emerged during the peak abundance of the planktonic organisms, indicating their dependence on the food supply sourced from the open shelf waters of Prydz Bay. Understanding patterns of species succession in this environment has important implications for determining the potential significance of future ice shelf collapse.

KEY WORDS: Ice shelf · Succession · Holocene · Benthic fauna · Microfossil

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Cite this article as: Post AL, Hemer MA, O\'Brien PE, Roberts D, Craven M (2007) History of benthic colonisation beneath the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 344:29-37

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