Polar Biology

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 610–620 | Cite as

Benthic response to ice-edge-induced particle flux in the Arctic Ocean

Original Paper


With the aims of investigating the response of the smallest benthic biota to a strong ice-edge-related input of phytodetritus, and of registering supposed lateral transportation processes of phytodetrital matter with northerly direction under the ice, we analysed a number of abiotic and biotic parameters in surface sediments from the northern Fram Strait. Two transects of 14 stations in total were made. One transect, crossing the Fram Strait from the east to the west, followed mainly the ice edge. The second transect extended latitudinally in a northerly direction, starting in ice-free areas, passing the ice edge, and ending in heavy ice-covered areas, approximately 100 nm north of the ice edge. Stations along this transect were sampled at almost constant water depths to avoid depth-related influences in our investigations. Results showed the expected high phytodetritus concentrations in the ice-edge vicinity. Concentrations of sediment-bound plant pigments were approximately 5 times higher than in ice-covered areas, indicating a very strong phytodetritus input. With increasing distance from the highly productive areas at the ice edge, we found significantly decreasing concentrations of phytodetrital input to the seafloor in a northerly direction. Within the foraminiferans, generic diversity was clearly reduced in the area of strong phytodetritus deposition. Along the latitudinal transect, out of the direct ice-edge influence, foraminiferal diversities slowly increased within increasing distance from the ice edge. The integration of results from earlier foraminiferal investigations, from stations further to the north, indicates a once more decreasing diversity with continually decreasing food supply.



We wish to thank the crew of the German icebreaker R/V Polarstern for their helpful support during the expedition ARK XV/2 in summer 1999, and Evelin Siebert for her help with measurements of several biogenic sediment compounds. We also gratefully acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on the manuscript.


  1. Altenbach AV (1992) Short term processes and patterns in the foraminiferal response to organic flux rates. Mar Micropaleontol 19:119–129Google Scholar
  2. Barnett PRO, Watson J, Conelly D (1984) A multiple corer for taking virtually undisturbed samples from shelf, bathyal and abyssal sediments. Oceanol Acta 7:399–408Google Scholar
  3. Billett DSM, Lampitt RS, Rice AL (1983) Seasonal sedimentation of phytoplankton to the deep-sea benthos. Nature 302:520–522Google Scholar
  4. Boetius A, Damm E (1998) Benthic oxygen uptake, hydrolytic potentials and microbial biomass at the Arctic continental slope. Deep Sea Res 45:239–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boetius A, Lochte K (1994) Regulation of microbial enzymatic degradation of OM in deep-sea sediments. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 104:299–307Google Scholar
  6. Boetius A, Lochte K (1996) Effect of organic enrichments on hydrolytic potentials and growth of bacteria in deep-sea sediments. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 140:239–250Google Scholar
  7. Børsheim KY, Bratbak G, Heldal M (1990) Enumeration and biomass estimation of planktonic bacteria and viruses by transmission electron microscopy. Appl Environ Microbiol 56:352–356PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Caswell H (1976) Community structure: a neutral model analysis. Ecol Monogr 46:327–354Google Scholar
  9. Connell JH (1978) Diversity in tropical forests and coral reefs. Science 199:1302–1310Google Scholar
  10. Corliss BH, Emerson S (1990) Distribution of Rose Bengal stained deep-sea benthic Foraminifera from the Nova Scotian continental margin and Gulf of Maine. Deep Sea Res 37:381–400Google Scholar
  11. Cota GF, Legendre L, Gosselin M, Ingram RG (1991) Ecology of bottom ice algae. I. Environmental controls and variability. J Mar Syst 2:257–277Google Scholar
  12. Ewens WJ (1972) The sampling theory of selectively neutral alleles. Theor Popul Biol 3:87–112PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Falk-Petersen S, Hop H, Budgell WP, Hegseth EN, Korsnes R, Loeyning TB, Oerbaek JB, Kawamura T, Shirasawa K (2000) Physical and ecological processes in the marginal ice zone of the northern Barents Sea during the summer melt period. J Mar Syst 27:131–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Findlay RH, Dobbs FC (1993) Quantitative description of microbial communities using lipid analysis. In: Kemp PF, Sherr BF, Sher EB, Cole JJ (eds) Handbook of methods in aquatic microbial ecology. Lewis, Boca Raton, pp 271–284Google Scholar
  15. Goldman N, Lambshead PJD (1989) Optimization of the Ewens/Caswell neutral model program for community diversity analysis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 50:255–261Google Scholar
  16. Gooday AJ (1994) The biology of deep-sea foraminifera: a review of some advances and their applications in paleooceanography. Palaios 9:14–31Google Scholar
  17. Gooday AJ, Carstens M, Thiel H (1995) Micro- and nanoforaminifera from abyssal Northeast Atlantic Sediments: a preliminary report. Int Rev Ges Hydrobiol 80:361–383Google Scholar
  18. Gooday AJ, Pfannkuche O, Lambshead PJD (1996) An apparent lack of response by metazoan meiofauna to phytodetritus deposition in the bathyal north-eastern Atlantic. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 76:297–310Google Scholar
  19. Greiser N, Faubel A (1988) Biotic factors. In: Higgins RP, Thiel H (eds) Introduction to the study of meiofauna. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, pp 79–114Google Scholar
  20. Grossmann S, Reichhardt W (1991) Impact of Arenicola Marina on bacteria in intertidal sediments. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 77:85–93Google Scholar
  21. Hurlbert SH (1984) Pseudoreplication and the design of ecological field experiments. Ecol Monogr 54:187–211Google Scholar
  22. Huston M (1979) A general hypothesis of species diversity. Am Nat 113:81–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kaleschke L, Lüpkes C, Vihma T, Haarpaintner J, Bochert A, Heygster G (2001) SSM/I Sea ice remote sensing for mesoscale ocean-atmosphere interaction analysis. Can J Remote Sensing 27:526–532Google Scholar
  24. Karl DM (1993) Total microbial biomass estimation derived from the measurement of particulate adenosine-5′-triphosphate. In: Kemp PF, Sherr BF, Sher EB, Cole JJ (eds) Handbook of methods in aquatic microbial ecology. Lewis, Boca Raton, pp 271–284Google Scholar
  25. Lambshead PJD, Platt HM (1988) Analysing disturbance with the Ewens/Caswell neutral model: theoretical review and practical assessment. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 43:31–41Google Scholar
  26. Manley TO (1995) Branching of Atlantic water within the Greenland-Spitsbergen Passage: an estimate of recirculation. J Geophys Res 100:20627–20634Google Scholar
  27. Meyer-Reil L-A, Köster M (1992) Microbial life in pelagic sediments: the impact of environmental parameters on enzymatic degradation of organic material. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 81:65–72Google Scholar
  28. Murray JL (1998) Physical/geographical characteristics of the Arctic. In: Wilson SJ, Murray JL, Huntington HP (eds) AMAP assessment report: Arctic pollution issues. Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Oslo, pp 9–24Google Scholar
  29. Pfannkuche O, Thiel H (1987) Meiobenthic stocks and benthic activity on the NE-Svalbard Shelf and in the Nansen Basin. Polar Biol 7:253–266Google Scholar
  30. Platt HM, Lambshead PJD (1985) Neutral model analysis of patterns of marine benthic species diversity. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 24:75–81Google Scholar
  31. Rajendran N, Matsuda O, Urushigawa Y (1992) Distribution of polarlipid fatty acid biomarkers for bacteria in sediments of a polluted bay. Microbios 72:143–152Google Scholar
  32. Rudels B, Meyer R, Fahrbach E, Ivanov VV, Østerhus S, Quadfasel D, Schauer U, Tverberg V, Woodgate RA (2000) Water mass distribution in Fram Strait and over the Yermak Plateau in summer 1997. Ann Geophys 18:687–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sakshaug E, Skjoldal HR (1989) Life at the ice edge. Ambio 18:60–67Google Scholar
  34. Sakshaug E, Slagstad D (1991) Light and productivity of phytoplankton in polar marine ecosystems: a physiological view. Polar Res 10:69–85Google Scholar
  35. Schewe I (2001) Small-sized benthic organisms of the Alpha Ridge, central Arctic Ocean. Int Rev Ges Hydrobiol 86:317–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schewe I, Soltwedel T (1999) Deep-sea meiobenthos of the central Arctic Ocean: distribution patterns and size-structure under extreme oligotrophic conditions. Vie Milieu 49:79–92Google Scholar
  37. Smart CW, Gooday AJ (1997) Recent benthic foraminifera in the abyssal Northeast Atlantic Ocean: relation to phytodetrital inputs. J Foraminiferal Res 27:85–92Google Scholar
  38. Soltwedel T, Schewe I (1998) Activity and biomass of the small benthic biota under permanent ice-coverage in the central Arctic Ocean. Polar Biol 19:52–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Soltwedel T, Mokievsky V, Schewe I (2000) Benthic activity and biomass on the Yermak Plateau and in adjacent deep-sea regions northwest of Svalbard. Deep Sea Res I 47:1716–1785Google Scholar
  40. Subba Rao DV, Platt T (1984) Primary production of Arctic waters. Polar Biol 3:191–201Google Scholar
  41. Thiel H (1978) Benthos in upwelling regions. In: Boje R, Tomczak M (eds) Upwelling ecosystems. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 124–138Google Scholar
  42. Venrick EL (1971) The statistics of subsampling. Limnol Oceanogr 16:811–818Google Scholar
  43. Walsh JJ, McRoy CP, Coachman LK, Goering JJ, Nihoul JJ, Whitledge TE, Blackburn TH, Parker PL, Wirick CD, Shuert PG, Grebmeier JM, Springer AM, Tripp RD, Hansell DA, Djendi S, Deleersnijder E, Herinksen K, Lund BA, Andersen P, MuK ller-Karger FE, Dean K (1998) Carbon and nitrogen cycling within the Bering/Chuchki Seas: source regions for organic matter electing AOU demands of the Arctic Ocean. Progr Oceanogr 22:277–359Google Scholar
  44. Wollenburg JE, Kuhnt W (2000) The response of benthic foraminifers to carbon flux and primary production in the Arctic Ocean. Mar Micropaleontol 40:189–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred-Wegener-Institut for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany

Personalised recommendations