Sublittoral epifaunal communities at Signy Island, Antarctica. I. The ice-foot zone
Photographs were taken every 0.5 m along three transects of 5.5 m length on shallow rock faces at Signy Island, Antarctica, during the austral summer of 1991/1992. The percentage cover of substratum ranged from 0 to 100% and the colonising communities included representatives of ten phyla. The zone from mean low-water neap level to 1.5 m depth was mostly devoid of organisms as a result of the seasonal formation of the encrusting ice foot. Coralline and macroalgae dominated from 2 to 3 m, and animal groups from 3.5 to 5.5 m. Bryozoans, and to a lesser extent sponges, were the most abundant animal phyla. Within the bryozoans a succession of colonisation of different species was observed, the most abundant two of which occupied >80% of substratum in places. Substratum type seemed to be the main factor influencing community development in the shallow sublittoral at Signy Island, although ice impact prevents community development in the top 1.5 m and limits it over the rest of the transect down to 5.5 m. Depth and profile of substratum also influenced communities within this depth range (particularly taxonomic composition).