Polar Biology

, Volume 28, Issue 10, pp 784–795 | Cite as

The sub-ice algal community in the Chukchi sea: large- and small-scale patterns of abundance based on images from a remotely operated vehicle

  • William G. AmbroseJrEmail author
  • Cecilie von Quillfeldt
  • Lisa M. Clough
  • Peter V. R. Tilney
  • Terry Tucker
Original Paper


We examined the sub-ice algal community in the Chukchi Sea during June 1998 using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Ice algae were observed on the under-ice surface at all ten stations (from 70°29′N to 72°26′N; 162°00′W to 153°56′W) and varied in abundance and distribution from small aggregations limited to depressions in the ice to nets, curtains and strands of Melosira. There was no relationship between percent cover of sub-ice algae and physical factors at the kilometer scale, but at the scale of individual ice floes the percent cover of sub-ice algae was positively correlated with distance from the floe edge and negatively correlated with snow depth. A significant positive relationship between the concentration of sediment pigments and percent cover of sub-ice could indicate a coupling between ice algal and benthic systems. Pieces of ice algae that appeared to be Melosira were observed on the seafloor to a depth of over 100 m and cells or spores of obligate ice algal taxa were collected from sediments from 44-m to 1,000-m deep. The large biomass of sub-ice algae observed at many stations in the Chukchi Sea and the presence of ice algae on the seafloor indicates that the distribution and abundance of sub-ice algae needs to be understood if we are to evaluate the role of ice algae in the Arctic marine ecosystem.


Percent Cover Snow Depth Remotely Operate Vehicle Algal Cover Total Primary Productivity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Our work was supported by grants from the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration National Undersea Research Program, West Coast and Polar Regions Center and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through a grant to Bates College. Ship support was provided by the United States Coast Guard. Our work would not have been successful without the tremendous efforts of the officers and crew of the USCGC Polar Sea. We are also very grateful to Lance Horn from the University of North Carolina National Undersea Research Center for expertly managing all aspects of the ROV, Tim Buckley and Aaron Putman under the direction of Deb Meese for analyzing the ice samples for pigments and Jon Reierstand and Dan Robarts for making the map. We are also indebted to Paul Renaud for his comments on earlier versions of this manuscript and to three reviewers whose comments and suggestions improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • William G. AmbroseJr
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Cecilie von Quillfeldt
    • 3
  • Lisa M. Clough
    • 4
  • Peter V. R. Tilney
    • 1
  • Terry Tucker
    • 5
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentBates CollegeLewistonUSA
  2. 2.Akvaplan-NivaPolar Environmental CenterTromsöNorway
  3. 3.Norwegian Polar InstitutePolar Environmental CenterTromsöNorway
  4. 4.Department of BiologyEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  5. 5.CRRELHanoverUSA

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