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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Differences in functional diversity and functional composition of epibenthic invertebrate assemblages on Alaskan Arctic shelves lead to differences in ecosystem functioning. Photo: Katrin Iken

Sutton L, Iken K, Bluhm BA, Mueter FJ


Comparison of functional diversity of two Alaskan Arctic shelf epibenthic communities


The functional and taxonomic diversity of Alaskan Arctic epibenthic shelf communities of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas were compared. We observed that patterns in functional diversity mirrored those of taxonomic diversity with a higher diversity found in the Beaufort Sea. In addition, these two shelves differed in taxonomic and functional composition driven by the biological traits body form, body size, larval development, and reproductive strategy which likely lead to differences in ecosystem function. These results support the Biodiversity Ecosystem Hypothesis in that higher diversity likely leads to increased ecosystem maintenance, stability, and resource partitioning. We propose here that the Beaufort Sea shelf may be better able to maintain ecosystem function compared to the more vulnerable, less diverse Chukchi Sea shelf.


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