The Dynamic Mosaic Disturbance and Development of Antarctic Benthic Communities

The continental shelf is the platform for many of the planet’s most productive ecosystems but it is exposed to high disturbance. At high latitudes, massive grounded ice sheets have extended and retreated during glaciations whilst at lower latitudes sea level changes alternately emerse it as land or deepen it below the euphotic zone. The magnitude, frequency and mode of disturbances differ around the planet and in this chapter we describe these for the the Antarctic region, where icebergs and the highest wind speeds and wave heights in the world result in communities in a continuous cycle of disturbance and recolonization. Concepts of disturbance, colonization and early development or succession have been a source of considerable interest to ecologists for more than a century but now, with increasing realisation that the world’s coastal areas are facing unprecedented and accelerating anthropogenic threats (Jackson et al.,2001) these concepts have assumed new importance.


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Authors: Barnes, David K.A., Conlan, Kathleen E.

Editors: Rogers, Alex D., Johnston, Nadine M., Murphy, Eugene J., Clarke, Andrew

On this site: Andrew Clarke, David Barnes, Eugene Murphy, Nadine Johnston
1 January, 2012
In: Rogers, Alex D., Johnston, Nadine M., Murphy, Eugene J., Clarke, Andrew (eds.). Antarctic Ecosystems: An Extreme Environment in a Changing World, Blackwell Publishing, 255-290.
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