The influence of ice scour on benthic communities at three contrasting sites at Adelaide Island, Antarctica
Ice scouring is a key structuring force acting on high latitude shallow benthic communities. Despite its importance, detailed studies of scoured communities are still rare. Here we report the ecological effects of 12 iceberg impacts, across three contrasting study sites, at Adelaide Island, West Antarctic Peninsula. Grounded icebergs were marked with GPS and the newly formed scours (at 10-17 m depth) were sampled within 20 days of formation. Comparisons between scoured and adjacent unscoured assemblages were made using measures of abundance, biomass, taxon richness and the relative abundance of secondary consumers. Ice scouring was catastrophic at all sites, despite differences in substratum type, exposure and background community. Compared with undisturbed areas, scour assemblages were 95% lower in mean macrofaunal abundance and 75.9% lower in species richness. There was no general trend across all sites of ice scouring selecting for secondary consumers. The echinoid Sterechinus neumayeri and bivalve mollusc Mysella charcoti were highly abundant in undisturbed areas and were the biggest contributors to the observed differences between scours and undisturbed areas.