Kelp-carbon uptake by Arctic deep-sea food webs plays a noticeable role in maintaining ecosystem structural and functional traits

Daniel Vilas, Marta Coll, Torstein Pedersen, Xavier Corrales, Karen Filbee-Dexter, Morten Foldager Pedersen, Kjell Magnus Norderhaug, Stein Fredriksen, Thomas Wernberg, Eva Ramírez-Llodra

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19 Citations (Scopus)


The flow of non-living carbon (detritus) is considered an important process because it connects ecosystems and fuels benthic communities. In Norwegian kelp forests, 90% of the kelp production is exported to adjacent ecosystems where it can play a significant role in shaping benthic communities. We quantified the major structural and functional traits of an Arctic deep-sea ecosystem associated with kelp exports and assessed the ecological role of kelp export into the deep-sea system. We first developed a food-web model using the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) approach to represent the state of the deep (450 m) ecosystem of the Malangen fjord (Northern Norway) in 2017. Subsequently, we used the temporal dynamic model Ecosim to explore the structure and functioning traits of a theoretical deep-sea ecosystem projecting a decrease of kelp detritus biomass reaching the deep-sea ecosystem. Overall, our findings reveal that kelp detritus from shallow coastal areas has a small but noticeable role structuring the deep-sea ecosystem of Malangen. The temporal simulations show important differences depending on the application of mediating effects, which allow considering the detritus as a mediating group in prey-predator interaction, in addition to its direct role in trophic relationships. When mediating effects are applied, biomass increases for benthopelagic shrimps and suprabenthos groups and decreases for rays and skates, velvet belly, rabbitfish and other commercial demersal fishes under the low kelp detritus scenarios. Biomass-based and trophic-based indicators reveal a noticeable impact on the deep-sea ecosystem structure due to depletion of kelp detritus. To further assess future changes of the Arctic deep-sea ecosystems, dependencies with adjacent ecosystems, such as kelp detritus production, should be included.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103268
JournalJournal of Marine Systems
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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