INSTITUTO DE DIVERSIDAD Y ECOLOGIA ANIMAL
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Benthic colonization in newly ice-free soft-bottom areas in an Antarctic fjord
LAGGER, CRISTIAN; SERVETTO, NATALIA; TORRE, LUCIANA; SAHADE, RICARDO
PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
Año: 2017 vol. 12
Extended glacier retreat is among the main consequences of the rapid warming of the West Antarctic Peninsula. Particularly, in the inner part of Potter Cove (South Shetland Islands, Antarctica) large areas are now exposed to open sea conditions owing to the retreat of Fourcade glacier. During the 2010 austral summer, underwater photographic surveys were undertaken by SCUBA diving up to 30 m in these new ice-free areas 80 m from the glacier front. Our main aim was to investigate colonization and early succession of the benthic assemblages on soft-bottom areas. Here, we reported a total of 1,146 animals belonging to 13 taxa. Filter-feeders comprised the largest trophic group and sessile fauna showed much higher coverages and densities than mobile fauna at all depths. The most abundant groups were ascidians and bryozoans, which together comprised ~90% of all taxa documented. In a region where most of marine-terminating glaciers are in retreat, these results are an important contribution to improve our knowledge on colonization in the newly ice-free areas.