Polar Ecology

Iceberg scours alter seafloor diversity

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Science  20 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6190, pp. 1355
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6190.1355-g

The ocean seabed is a patchwork quilt of colors and species. But along the West Antarctic Peninsula, increased iceberg activity—due to climate change and fewer days of frozen seas—is reducing sea floor biodiversity. Icebergs scouring the sea floor temporarily destroy habitat; different species recover at different rates. Barnes et al. examined spatial distribution, diversity, interactions between and within species, and ice scour hits near Rothera Research Station from 1997 to 2013. One species, Fenestrulina rugula, was quickest to recover; it now dominates, and is involved in, 96% of all interactions. Such reduced diversity could mean more vulnerability to invasive species.

Curr.Biol. 10.1016/j.cub.2014.04.040(2014).

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