Ice disturbance intensity structures benthic communities in nearshore Antarctic waters

Daniel Smale

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    Ice scouring is one of the 5 most significant natural forces acting on ecosystems, yet veryfew data exist linking the intensity of ice disturbance with parameters of benthic community structure.The benthos at 2 nearshore sites on Adelaide Island, Antarctica, was sampled at 3 resolutions tomake novel links between biological data and empirical disturbance data from the literature. A totalof 125 taxa and >70 000 individuals were recorded. A total of 8 parameters of community structurewere measured; all of them were negatively correlated to disturbance intensity at one site, whilst 6significant relationships were found at the other site. At 2 of the 3 sampling resolutions, disturbance,rather than depth or the percentage cover of major substratum types, was the environmental variablemost correlated with the patterns in community structure. Furthermore, biological samples weredivided into 3 categories based on the disturbance data (low, moderate and high). Each group wasstatistically dissimilar and the relative abundance of sessile fauna decreased as disturbance intensityincreased. The intensity of disturbance was broadly correlated with depth, but small-scale differencesin topography and substratum type created small-scale refugia, which supported richer assemblages.Overall, both study sites were disturbed frequently and no evidence of a peak in richness atthe moderately disturbed locations was recorded.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)89-102
    JournalMarine Ecology - Progress Series
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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