Disturbances have been widely studied and are recognized as a crucial determinant of an area’s species richness and diversity.
Along the Antarctic coast, icebergs regularly break away from glaciers and plunge into the nutrient-rich waters below. Carried by currents and wind, these icebergs then scrape along the bottom of the seafloor, wiping out the marine communities in their paths. These powerful events throw marine ecosystems into chaos, causing massive die-offs in the affected areas. Researchers recently dove into this hostile environment to record the stunning ecological transformations taking place. Their findings were published in Marine Environmental Research earlier this year.
The study examined the shallows adjacent to the western Antarctic Peninsula, an area highly disturbed by ice scouring — when icebergs break off from glaciers and gouge the seafloor. It presents the connections between these ecosystem disturbances and the structure of assemblages—the groups of organisms which live in the surrounding community.
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