Polar Biology

, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 553-564

On the direct impact of ice on marine benthic communities, a review

  • Julian GuttAffiliated withAlfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Columbusstrasse, 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany

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Ice has a significant impact on the polar and sub-polar benthos, but relationships between corresponding physical and biological processes are not yet sufficiently understood. Sea ice contributes to a vertical zonation in shallow waters, which also experience other important disturbances. Due to the length of the non-glaciated coastline, sea ice is of greater relevance in the north than in the south. Scouring by icebergs and ridged sea ice causes an increased diversity when different recolonisation stages coexist. Frequently scoured areas do not recover, especially in the Antarctic, due to slow growth rates of the fauna. Iceberg grounding in the Arctic is mainly restricted to the western Eurasian and northeastern American shelf, including Greenland. Around Antarctica, scouring is more evenly distributed. Glacier termini prevent sessile animals from settling in their proximity where only few motile species occur.