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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 310 - Feature article
Tellinid bivalve Macoma calcarea being fed ice algae. Note the separate inhalant and exhalant siphons and numerous compact fecal pellets. Photo: G. R. Lopez, Marine Science Research Center, SUNY Stony Brook

McMahon KW, Ambrose WG Jr, Johnson BJ, Sun MY, Lopez GR, Clough LM, Carroll ML


Benthic community response to ice algae and phytoplankton in Ny Ålesund, Svalbard


Arctic warming as a result of global climate change will likely cause a decrease in ice algae and may cause an increase in phytoplankton reaching the seafloor. We assessed the digestibility and utilization of ice algae and phytoplankton by the shallow subtidal benthos in Ny Ålesund, Svalbard, using chlorophyll a, essential fatty acids (EFAs) and stable isotopes as tracers of food consumption and assimilation. Ice algae were readily consumed and assimilated, and may be preferentially selected by some benthic species (e.g. deposit feeders) due to their elevated EFA content. Global warming may therefore increase the quantity, but reduce the quality of food input to the Arctic benthic food web.


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