MEPS - Vol. 572 - FEATURE ARTICLE

Arctic deep-sea sediments host diverse macroinvertebrate communities, which appear resilient to climate change mediated alterations in their food supply.
Photos: © Laure de Montety & Gonzalo Bravo

Mäkelä A, Witte U, Archambault P

 

Ice algae versus phytoplankton: resource utilization by Arctic deep sea macroinfauna revealed through isotope labelling experiments


Arctic deep-sea benthic communities rely on phytoplankton and ice algae sinking from the surface waters as food source. Climate change driven summer sea ice loss is predicted to increase phytoplankton primary production, whereas ice algal production is likely to be reduced. This change in composition of food supply could render seafloor organisms vulnerable if they preferentially feed on the high quality ice algae. Mäkelä and colleagues showed through isotope labelling experiments at 2 Canadian Arctic Archipelago sites that seafloor macroinvertebrates can utilize both ice algae and phytoplankton as their main food source, with no taxonomic group exclusively preferring ice algae. This flexibility in resource utilization makes the macroinvertebrates resilient against climate change mediated changes in food supply.

 

 

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