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Abundance and richness of key Antarctic seafloor fauna correlates with modelled food availability


Jansen, J and Hill, NA and Dunstan, PK and McKinlay, J and Sumner, MD and Post, AL and Eleaume, MP and Armand, LK and Warnock, JP and Galton-Fenzi, BK and Johnson, CR, Abundance and richness of key Antarctic seafloor fauna correlates with modelled food availability, Nature Ecology and Evolution, 2 pp. 71-80. ISSN 2397-334X (2018) [Refereed Article]

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© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0392-3


Most seafloor communities at depths below the photosynthesis zone rely on food that sinks through the water column. However, the nature and strength of this pelagic–benthic coupling and its influence on the structure and diversity of seafloor communities is unclear, especially around Antarctica where ecological data are sparse. Here we show that the strength of pelagic–benthic coupling along the East Antarctic shelf depends on both physical processes and the types of benthic organisms considered. In an approach based on modelling food availability, we combine remotely sensed sea-surface chlorophyll-a, a regional ocean model and diatom abundances from sediment grabs with particle tracking and show that fluctuating seabed currents are crucial in the redistribution of surface productivity at the seafloor. The estimated availability of suspended food near the seafloor correlates strongly with the abundance of benthic suspension feeders, while the deposition of food particles correlates with decreasing suspension feeder richness and more abundant deposit feeders. The modelling framework, which can be modified for other regions, has broad applications in conservation and management, as it enables spatial predictions of key components of seafloor biodiversity over vast regions around Antarctica.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Antarctic biodiversity, pelagic-benthic coupling, primary production, sessile filter feeders, Regional Oceanographic Modelling System, diatoms
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Jansen, J (Dr Jan Jansen)
UTAS Author:Hill, NA (Dr Nicole Hill)
UTAS Author:Sumner, MD (Mr Michael Sumner)
UTAS Author:Galton-Fenzi, BK (Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CR (Professor Craig Johnson)
ID Code:123342
Year Published:2018 (online first 2017)
Web of Science® Times Cited:34
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2018-01-03
Last Modified:2018-07-17

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