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Benthic Megafaunal Community Structure and Biodiversity Along a Sea Ice Gradient on the Western Antarctic Peninsula: Insights into Climate Warming

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Title:Benthic Megafaunal Community Structure and Biodiversity Along a Sea Ice Gradient on the Western Antarctic Peninsula: Insights into Climate Warming
Authors:Clark, Christian
Contributors:Smith, Craig (advisor)
Grange, Laura (advisor)
Oceanography (department)
Global Environmental Science (department)
sea ice
marine ecosystem
Date Issued:2010
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Place of Publication:Honolulu
Abstract:The Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) is experiencing some of the
fastest rates of regional warming in the world, resulting in the collapse of ice shelves,
warming ocean temperatures, and increased melt and retreat of glaciers. Winter sea ice
coverage in the waters off the WAP has decreased in duration and extent over the last half
century. The significant changes observed off the WAP are extremely important in
studying the effects that global climate change may have on marine ecosystems.
Observed changes in sea ice may have negative effects on benthic ecosystems due to
interactions between sea ice, primary production, and pelagic-benthic coupling. The
effects of sea ice duration on deep benthic community structure (550-650 m depth) along
the WAP continental shelf are not well understood. We evaluated megafaunal abundance,
species richness, and community structure at five physically similar midshelf stations
along a strong latitudinal sea ice gradient from Smith Island (63S) to Marguerite Bay
(68S). Data collection included replicate towed “Yoyo Camera” transects (i.e.
quantitative photographic surveys) of the seafloor at each station. Our most northern
station (Sta. AA) experiences ~1 month of sea ice per year and our most southern station
(Sta. G) sees >7 months of sea ice cover per year. This study found that both megafaunal
abundance and community structure varied latitudinally along our north-south transect on
the WAP in concert with sea ice duration. Interestingly, species richness showed no
general patterns or trends as a result of sea ice extent. These results suggest that sea ice
loss is likely to alter megabenthic community structure on the WAP, possibly causing a
shift from deposit-feeder dominated to suspension-feeder dominated communities along
the southern WAP.
Pages/Duration:43 pages
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Rights Holder:Clark, Christian
Appears in Collections: Global Environmental Science Theses

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