Can Antarctica’s shallow zoobenthos ‘bounce back’ from iceberg scouring impacts driven by climate change?

All coastal systems experience disturbances and many across the planet are under unprecedented threat from an intensification of a variety of stressors. The West Antarctic Peninsula is a hotspot of physical climate change and has experienced a dramatic loss of sea‐ice and glaciers in recent years. Among other things, sea‐ice immobilizes icebergs, reducing collisions between icebergs and the seabed, thus decreasing ice‐scouring. Ice disturbance drives patchiness in successional stages across seabed assemblages in Antarctica's shallows, making this an ideal system to understand the ecosystem resilience to increasing disturbance with climate change. We monitored a shallow benthic ecosystem before, during and after a 3‐year pulse of catastrophic ice‐scouring events and show that such systems can return, or bounce back, to previous states within 10 years. Our long‐term data series show that recovery can happen more rapidly than expected, when disturbances abate, even in highly sensitive cold, polar environments.


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Authors: Zwerschke, Nadescha ORCIDORCID record for Nadescha Zwerschke, Morley, Simon A. ORCIDORCID record for Simon A. Morley, Peck, Lloyd S. ORCIDORCID record for Lloyd S. Peck, Barnes, David K.A. ORCIDORCID record for David K.A. Barnes

On this site: David Barnes, Lloyd Peck, Nadescha Zwerschke, Simon Morley
3 June, 2021
Global Change Biology / 27
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