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Benthic trophic interactions in an Antarctic shallow water ecosystem affected by recent glacier retreat
Pasotti, F.; Saravia, L.A.; De Troch, M.; Tarantelli, M.S.; Sahade, R.; Vanreusel, A. (2015). Benthic trophic interactions in an Antarctic shallow water ecosystem affected by recent glacier retreat. PLoS One 10(11): e0141742. hdl.handle.net/10.1371/journal.pone.0141742
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203; e-ISSN 1932-6203, meer
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  • Pasotti, F.
  • Saravia, L.A.
  • De Troch, M.
  • Tarantelli, M.S.
  • Sahade, R.
  • Vanreusel, A.

Abstract
    The western Antarctic Peninsula is experiencing strong environmental changes as a consequence of ongoing regional warming. Glaciers in the area are retreating rapidly and increased sediment-laden meltwater runoff threatens the benthic biodiversity at shallow depths. We identified three sites with a distinct glacier-retreat related history and different levels of glacial influence in the inner part of Potter Cove (King George Island, South Shetland Islands), a fjord-like embayment impacted since the 1950s by a tidewater glacier retreat. We compared the soft sediment meio- and macrofauna isotopic niche widths (d13C and d15N stable isotope analysis) at the three sites to investigate possible glacier retreat-related influences on benthic trophic interactions. The isotopic niches were locally shaped by the different degrees of glacier retreat-related disturbance within the Cove. Wider isotopic niche widths were found at the site that has become ice-free most recently, and narrower niches at the older ice-free sites. At an intermediate state of glacier retreat-related disturbance (e.g. via ice-growler scouring) species with different strategies could settle. The site at the earliest stage of post-retreat development was characterized by an assemblage with lower trophic redundancy. Generally, the isotopic niche widths increased with increasing size spectra of organisms within the community, excepting the youngest assemblage, where the pioneer colonizer meiofauna size class displayed the highest isotopic niche width. Meiofauna at all sites generally occupied positions in the isotopic space that suggested a detrital-pool food source and/or the presence of predatory taxa. In general ice scour and glacial impact appeared to play a two-fold role within the Cove: i) either stimulating trophic diversity by allowing continuous re-colonization of meiofaunal species or, ii) over time driving the benthic assemblages into a more compact trophic structure with increased connectedness and resource recycling.

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