Polar ecosystem dynamics: Recovery of communities from organic enrichment in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

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Kim, S., Hammerstom, K. K., Conlan, K. E., & Thurber, A. R. (2010). Polar ecosystem dynamics: Recovery of communities from organic enrichment in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 50(6), 1031-1040. doi:10.1093/icb/icq058
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TitlePolar ecosystem dynamics: Recovery of communities from organic enrichment in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica
AuthorsS. Kim, K. Hammerstom, E. Conlan, R. Thurber
AbstractCommunity structure and diversity are influenced by patterns of disturbance and input of food. In Antarctica, the marine ecosystem undergoes highly seasonal changes in availability of light and in primary production. Near research stations, organic input from human activities can disturb the regular productivity regime with a consistent input of sewage. McMurdo Sound has both high-productivity and low-productivity habitats, thereby providing an ideal test bed for community recovery dynamics under polar conditions. We used experimental manipulations of the subtidal communities to test the hypotheses that (1) benthic communities respond differently to disturbance from organic enrichment versus burial and (2) community response also varies in areas with different natural patterns of food supply. Both in low- and high-food habitats, the strongest community response was to organic enrichment and resulted in dominance of typical organic-enrichment specialists. In habitats with highly seasonal productivity, community response was predictable and recovery was rapid. In habitats with low productivity, community variability was high and caging treatments suggested that inconsistencies were due to patchy impacts by scavengers. In areas normally subject to regular organic enrichment, either from primary production or from further up the food web (defecation by marine mammals), recovery of benthic communities takes only years even in a polar system. However, a low-productivity regime is as common in near shore habitats around the continent; under these conditions, recovery of benthic communities from disturbance is likely to be much slower and follow a variable ecological trajectory. © The Author 2010. Published y Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. All rights reserved.
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Date2010
Volume50
Issue6
Start page1031
End page1040
ISSN15407063
Subjectsanimal, Antarctica, aquatic species, biota, chemistry, conference paper, environmental monitoring, food chain, physiology, Polychaeta, population dynamics, season, sewage, species difference, water pollutant, Animals, Antarctic Regions, Aquatic Organisms, Seasons, Species Specificity, Water Pollutants, Mammalia
NoteCited By (since 1996):2

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