Marine richness and gradients at Deception Island, Antarctica
Studies of the recovery of the fauna following the 1967-70 eruptions at Deception Island, South Shetland Islands, have made it one of the best-studied marine sites of the Southern Ocean for biodiversity. Using SCUBA we surveyed the mega- and macro-epifauna of its subtidal zones in the entrance (Neptune's Bellows), immediately inside the caldera (Whaler's Bay) and well within the caldera (Fumarole Bay). Richness declined from 10 phyla, 13 classes and 35 species at Neptune's Bellows to three phyla, four classes and five species in Whaler's Bay and just two phyla, classes and species at Fumarole Bay. Amongst the 35 species we found at Neptune's Bellows, 14 were previously unrecorded from Deception Island. Despite many ship visits and amongst the wannest sea temperatures in the Southern Ocean, the Non Indigenous Species (NIS) algae were not found in our survey. Deception Island has been recolonized considerably since the recent eruptions, but many taxa are still very poorly represented and the colonizers present are mainly those with planktotrophic larvae. Examination of the literature revealed that to date 163 named marine species have been found within the caldera as well as at least 50 more morphospecies, which are yet to be identified. Species accumulation has consistently increased across eight recent samples reported and the number of species reported there is likely to reach 300 when taxa such as the nematodes are identified to species level. This represents a first meaningful total species estimate for an Antarctic marine area and, as the site is comparatively impoverished, indicates how rich the surrounding Antarctic shelf must be.
Authors: Barnes, David K.A., Linse, Katrin, Enderlein, Peter, Smale, Dan, Fraser, Keiron P.P., Brown, Matthew