Sedimentation in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica: A disturbance mechanism for benthic invertebrates

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Slattery, M., & Bockus, D. (1997). Sedimentation in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica: A disturbance mechanism for benthic invertebrates. Polar Biology, 18(3), 172-179. doi:10.1007/s003000050174
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TitleSedimentation in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica: A disturbance mechanism for benthic invertebrates
AuthorsM. Slattery, D. Bockus
AbstractA slumping event that occurred on permanent transect lines from 12- to 30- m depth located at Arrival Heights, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica in 1993, provided an opportunity to examine the effects of sediment-mediated disturbance on the benthic invertebrate fauna. The disturbance had a particularly significant impact on the soft coral Alcyonium paessleri, which resulted in 84% colony mortality downslope from the slump site compared to an average annual mortality rate of 14% on control transects. In contrast, anchor ice at the same site accounted for removal of 5% of the population in 1992. Laboratory experiments with A. paessleri colonies under conditions of periodic sediment resuspension indicate that the soft corals are susceptible to this form of disturbance. Our observations suggest they are capable of shedding fine silt in the laboratory, which might ex-plain the presence of A. paessleri in soft-sediment sites around McMurdo Sound. However, scarring by larger gravel in laboratory assays was slow to heal and may account for much of the colony mortality we observed. Several invertebrate-barren rocky benthic regions in McMurdo Sound were suggestive of historical slumping events. Given the removal of the smaller grain size sediments from these areas - a typically slow process it appears these communities are slow to recover. The long-term effects of sedimentation on the benthic communities are unknown, but the impact on A. paessleri, one of the most common and fastest growing species, suggests this disturbance mechanism could lead to significant restructuring of these communities.
JournalPolar Biology
Date1997
Volume18
Issue3
Start page172
End page179
ISSN0722-4060
Subjectsbenthic invertebrate, benthos, coral colony, disturbance, environmental disturbance, invertebrate community structure, sedimentation, slumping, soft coral, Antarctica, McMurdo Sound, Amiral Heights, Alcyonium paessleri
NoteCited By (since 1996):13, Invertebrates, CODEN: POBID

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