Understanding the link between sea ice, ice scour and Antarctic benthic biodiversity – the need for cross-station and international collaboration
The western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) is a hotspot of rapid recent regional ‘climate change’. This has resulted in a 0.4°C rise in sea temperature in the last 50 years, five days of sea ice lost per decade and increased ice scouring in the shallows. The WAP shallows are ideal for studying the biological response to physical change because most known Antarctic species are benthic, physical change occurs mainly in the shallows and most research stations are coastal. Studies at Rothera Station have found increased benthic disturbance with losses of winter sea ice and assemblage-level changes coincident with this ice scouring. Such studies are difficult to scale up as they depend on SCUBA diving – a very spatially limited technique. Here we report attempts to broaden the understanding of benthic ecosystem responses to physical change by replicating the Rothera experimental grids at Carlini Station through collaboration between the UK, Argentina and Germany across Signy, Rothera and Carlini stations. We argue that such collaborations are the way forward towards understanding the big picture of biota responses to physical climate changes at a regional scale.
Authors: Deregibus, Dolores, Quartino, Maria Liliana, Zacher, Katharina, Campana, Gabriela Laura, Barnes, David K.A.