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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Benthic communities in Antarctica show temporal shifts in response to changes in sea ice and planktonic food supply. Zyzzyzus parvula is one key species. Photo: Rob Robbins

Kim S, Hammerstrom K, Dayton P


Epifaunal community response to iceberg-mediated environmental change in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

Marine benthic communities at high latitudes are strongly influenced by sea ice cover that limits light, primary production and planktonic food supply. Over 12 years, Kim, Hammerstrom, and Dayton tracked benthic community patterns at 17 sites in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Community shifts occurred in 2004 and 2009, primarily due to decreases in species that filter-feed on large particulates. The timing matched changes in sea ice patterns that resulted from mega-icebergs blocking the entrance to the sound. The mega-icebergs obstructed normal currents and sea ice movement and the thickened sea ice blocked more light than usual, decreasing the planktonic food supply. We hypothesize that a change in food quality, as well as quantity, influenced the observed temporal changes in epifaunal communities.


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