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- Anthropogenic disturbance and biodiversity of marine benthic communities in Antarctica: A regional comparison
- The impacts of two Antarctic stations in different regions, on marine sediment macrofaunal communities were compared: McMurdo, a very large station in the Ross Sea; and Casey, a more typical small station in East Antarctica. Community structure and diversity were compared along a gradient of anthropogenic disturbance from heavily contaminated to uncontaminated locations. We examined some of the inherent problems in comparing data from unrelated studies, such as different sampling methods, spatial and temporal scales of sampling and taxonomic uncertainty. These issues generated specific biases which were taken into account when interpreting patterns. Control sites in the two regions had very different communities but both were dominated by crustaceans. Community responses to anthropogenic disturbance (sediment contamination by metals, oils and sewage) were also different. At McMurdo the proportion of crustaceans decreased in disturbed areas and polychaetes became dominant, whereas at Casey, crustaceans increased in response to disturbance, largely through an increase in amphipods. Despite differing overall community responses there were some common elements. Ostracods, cumaceans and echinoderms were sensitive to disturbance in both regions. Capitellid, dorvelleid and orbiniid polychaetes were indicative of disturbed sites. Amphipods, isopods and tanaids had different responses at each station. Biodiversity and taxonomic distinctness were significantly lower at disturbed locations in both regions. The size of the impact, however, was not related to the level of contamination, with a larger reduction in biodiversity at Casey, the smaller, less polluted station. The impacts of small stations, with low to moderate levels of contamination, can thus be as great as those of large or heavily contaminated stations. Regional broad scale environmental influences may be important in determining the composition of communities and thus their response to disturbance, but there are some generalizations regarding responses which will aid future management of stations. © 2014 Stark et al., Antarctica
- Stark, Kim, Oliver
- Characterizing estuarine plume discharge into the coastal ocean using fatty acid biomarkers and pigment analysis
- The transformation of estuaries by human activities continues to alter the biogeochemical balance of the coastal ocean. The disruption of this balance can negatively impact the provision of goods and services, including fisheries, commerce and transportation, recreation and esthetic enjoyment. Here we examine a link, between the Elkhorn Slough and the coastal ocean in Monterey Bay, California (USA) using a novel application of fatty acid and pigment analysis. Fatty acid analysis of filtered water samples showed biologically distinct water types between the Elkhorn Slough plume and the receiving waters of the coastal ocean. A remarkable feature of the biological content of the plume entering the coastal ocean was the abundance of bacteria-specific fatty acids, which correlated well with concentrations of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM). Pigment analysis showed that plume waters contained higher concentrations of diatoms and cryptophytes, while the coastal ocean waters showed higher relative concentrations of dinoflagellates. Bacteria and cryptophytes can provide a source of labile, energy-rich organic matter that may be locally important as a source of food for pelagic and benthic communities. Surface and depth surveys of the plume show that the biogeochemical constituents of the slough waters are injected into the coastal waters and become entrained in the northward flowing, nearshore current of Monterey Bay. Transport of these materials to the northern portion of the bay can fuel a bloom incubator, which exists in this region. This study shows that fatty acid markers can reveal the biogeochemical interactions between estuaries and the coastal ocean and highlights how man-made changes have the potential to influence coastal ecological change. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
- Fischer, Ryan, Levesque, Welschmeyer