Polar Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 12, pp 2025–2038 | Cite as

Spring-to-summer changes and regional variability of benthic processes in the western Canadian Arctic

  • Heike Link
  • Philippe Archambault
  • Tobias Tamelander
  • Paul E. Renaud
  • Dieter Piepenburg
Original Paper


Seasonal dynamics in the activity of Arctic shelf benthos have been the subject of few local studies, and the pronounced among-site variability characterizing their results makes it difficult to upscale and generalize their conclusions. In a regional study encompassing five sites at 100–595 m water depth in the southeastern Beaufort Sea, we found that total pigment concentrations in surficial sediments, used as proxies of general food supply to the benthos, rose significantly after the transition from ice-covered conditions in spring (March–June 2008) to open-water conditions in summer (June–August 2008), whereas sediment Chl a concentrations, typical markers of fresh food input, did not. Macrobenthic biomass (including agglutinated foraminifera >500 μm) varied significantly among sites (1.2–6.4 g C m−2 in spring, 1.1–12.6 g C m−2 in summer), whereas a general spring-to-summer increase was not detected. Benthic carbon remineralisation also ranged significantly among sites (11.9–33.2 mg C m−2 day−1 in spring, 11.6–44.4 mg C m−2 day−1 in summer) and did in addition exhibit a general significant increase from spring-to-summer. Multiple regression analysis suggests that in both spring and summer, sediment Chl a concentration is the prime determinant of benthic carbon remineralisation, but other factors have a significant secondary influence, such as foraminiferan biomass (negative in both seasons), water depth (in spring) and infaunal biomass (in summer). Our findings indicate the importance of the combined and dynamic effects of food supply and benthic community patterns on the carbon remineralisation of the polar shelf benthos in seasonally ice-covered seas.


Arctic Beaufort Sea Pelagic-benthic coupling Seasonality Carbon remineralisation Benthic biomass 



We would like to thank the CCGS Amundsen officers and crew, and CFL scientists and technicians for their support on board. Special thanks go to M. Damerau, A. Scheltz and M. Bourque for assistance with sample collection in the field. We are also grateful for the help of L. de Montety and C. Grant in the laboratory, and J. Caveen’s help on ice data analysis. Thanks to J. Grant, L. M. Clough and one anonymous reviewer for valuable comments on the manuscript. Financial support was received by the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe) and ArcticNet. Partial funding was provided by the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies (FQRNT) and Québec-Océan for H. Link, Akvaplan-niva and the Research Council of Norway through the project Marine Ecosystem Response to a Changing Climate (MERCLIM, Nr. 184860/S30). This study was conducted as part of the IPY project Circumpolar Flaw Lead System Study (CFL) financed by IPY and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heike Link
    • 1
  • Philippe Archambault
    • 1
  • Tobias Tamelander
    • 2
  • Paul E. Renaud
    • 3
  • Dieter Piepenburg
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut des sciences de la mer de RimouskiUniversité du Québec à RimouskiRimouskiCanada
  2. 2.Department of Arctic and Marine BiologyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  3. 3.Akvaplan-niva ASPolar Environmental CentreTromsøNorway
  4. 4.Mainz Academy of Sciences, The Humanities and Literaturec/o Institute for Polar Ecology of the University of KielKielGermany

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