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Kim, S, Hammerstrom K, Dayton P.  2019.  Epifaunal community response to iceberg-mediated environmental change in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 613:1-14.   10.3354/meps12899   AbstractWebsite

High-latitude marine communities are dependent on sea ice patterns. Sea ice cover limits light, and hence primary production and food supply. Plankton, carried by currents from open water to areas under the sea ice, provides a transitory food resource that is spatially and temporally variable. We recorded epifaunal abundances at 17 sites in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, over 12 yr, and found differences in communities based on location and time. The differences in location support patterns observed in long-term infaunal studies, which are primarily driven by currents, food availability, and larval supply. The temporal differences, highlighting 2004 and 2009 as years of change, match the altered persistence of sea ice in the region, caused by the appearance and disappearance of mega-icebergs. The temporal changes were driven by changes in abundance of species that filter feed on large particulates. The shift in current patterns that occurred due to mega-icebergs decreased the normal food supply in the region. In addition to the decrease in food availability, we suggest that the reduced light resulting from thicker-than-normal sea ice resulted in a shift to smaller phytoplankton. A change in food quality as well as quantity may have influenced the temporal change in epifaunal communities.

Thrush, S, Dayton P, Cattaneo-Vietti R, Chiantore M, Cummings V, Andrew N, Hawes I, Kim S, Kvitek R, Schwarz AM.  2006.  Broad-scale factors influencing the biodiversity of coastal benthic communities of the Ross Sea. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 53:959-971.   10.1016/j.dsr2.2006.02.006   AbstractWebsite

Early ecological research in McMurdo Sound revealed local spatial gradients in community structure associated with variations in anchor ice disturbance, fast ice and snow cover, and the effects of predators. Research contrasting the cast and west sides of McMurdo Sound has shown major differences in benthic communities, which have been attributed to oceanographic influences on the advection of water-column productivity and the frequency of fast ice break-out. Despite these regional and local differences, coastal benthic communities in McMurdo Sound show a high level of stability, and contain a variety of large and potentially very long-lived species. In Terra Nova Bay, about half way along the Victoria Land Coast of the western Ross Sea, the coastal benthic communities provide some insightful contrasts with those in McMurdo Sound. For example, the abundance and depth distribution of dominant species such as Sterechinus neumayeri and Adamussium colbecki are markedly different from McMurdo Sound. In both locations communities dominated by large sponges are most prolific in regions that are free from iceberg disturbance of the seabed. A recent assessment of northern Victoria Land coastal benthic communities, in conjunction with multibeam imagery of the seafloor, further highlights the importance of iceberg disturbance in structuring Antarctic benthic communities. A comparative synthesis of these coastal ecological studies enables us to generate hypotheses concerning the relative importance of different environmental drivers in structuring benthic communities. Overlain on the regular latitudinal shifts in physical factors such as light regime, are regional fluctuations that are controlled by atmospheric and oceanographic circulation patterns and coastal topography/bathymetry. Change in diversity along the western coast of the Ross Sea is predicted to be influenced by three main factors (1) ice disturbance (e.g., via anchor ice and advection of supercooled water or icebergs), (2) photosynthetically available radiation (affected by ice and snow cover and water clarity), (3) the locations of polynyas and advection of planktonic production and larvae. Interactions between these factors are expected to result in non-linear changes along the latitudinal gradient. While predictions generated from these hypotheses remain to be rigorously tested, they provide indications of how benthic communities may respond to changes in production, disturbance and the stability of coastal sea ice. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.