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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 137:311-316 (1996)  -  doi:10.3354/meps137311

Impact of iceberg scouring on polar benthic habitats

Gutt J, Starmans A, Dieckmann G

In situ photographs and videos demonstrate that iceberg grounding in both polar regions causes considerable damage to benthic communities. Sessile organisms are eradicated and pioneer species begin to grow in high abundances on the devastated substratum. A preliminary quantitative analysis shows that the sea floor in the Antarctic and Arctic areas of investigation is disturbed by icebergs statistically once every 230 and 53 yr, respectively. Due to the extreme slow growth of many species, particularly in Antarctica, areas frequently disturbed in this manner are likely to be characterised by a continuous natural fluctuation between destruction and recovery. Increased perturbation by iceberg groundings through predicted global warming will result in considerable impairment of this environment.

Antarctic . Arctic . Benthos . Iceberg scouring . Global warming

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