Eukaryotic microbiota in the surface waters and sea ice of the Southern Ocean: aspects of physiology, ecology and biodiversity in a ‘two-phase’ ecosystem
The Southern Ocean provides a habitat for microplankton which is strongly influenced by physical factors. Of these, one of the most important and striking is the formation of sea ice. Organisms in the ice form a unique community with specific properties and adaptations. Material and organisms are exchanged between the water column and the ice during the annual cycle, and ice is an important factor in modifying biogeochemical processes and exchange between ocean and atmosphere. The coupled system, in which a range of organisms alternate between a fluid and a solid medium, provides an interesting exercise in community ecology, and has implications for the assessment of biodiversity in understanding large-scale change.