Biodiversity change after climate-induced ice-shelf collapse in the Antarctic

J. Gutt, I. Barratt, E. Domack, M. Scheidat

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77 Citations (Scopus)


The marine ecosystem on the eastern shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula was surveyed 5 and 12 years after the climate-induced collapse of the Larsen A and B ice shelves. An impoverished benthic fauna was discovered, that included deep-sea species presumed to be remnants from ice-covered conditions. The current structure of various ecosystem components appears to result from extremely different response rates to the change from an oligotrophic sub-ice-shelf ecosystem to a productive shelf ecosystem. Meiobenthic communities remained impoverished only inside the embayments. On local scales, macro- and mega-epibenthic diversity was generally low, with pioneer species and typical Antarctic megabenthic shelf species interspersed. Antarctic Minke whales and seals utilised the Larsen A/B area to feed on presumably newly established krill and pelagic fish biomass. Ecosystem impacts also extended well beyond the zone of ice-shelf collapse, with areas of high benthic disturbance resulting from scour by icebergs discharged from the Larsen embayments
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-83
JournalDeep-Sea Research. Part II, tropical studies in oceanography
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • western weddell sea
  • deep-sea
  • species-diversity
  • southern-ocean
  • 1st insights
  • ross sea
  • peninsula
  • impact
  • aggregations
  • biogeography

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