Polar Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 8, pp 1281–1287 | Cite as

Evidence for a pan-Arctic sea-ice diatom diet in Strongylocentrotus spp

  • Thomas A. BrownEmail author
  • Simon T. Belt
  • Dieter Piepenburg
Short Note


The Arctic marine food web is based on organic matter produced by both phytoplankton and sea-ice algae. With the decline of Arctic sea ice, the sustained availability of organic carbon of sea-ice origin is unclear. Recently, the detection of the sea-ice diatom biomarker IP25 in a range of Arctic benthic macrofauna indicated that this is a highly suitable biomarker for the identification of organic carbon derived from sea-ice primary production in Arctic food webs. However, the data presented previously were restricted to a single geographical region in the Canadian Arctic. Here, we show that IP25 is present in sea urchins of the genus Strongylocentrotus collected from ten locations with seasonal sea-ice cover from the Canadian Archipelago, Greenland and Spitsbergen. In contrast, IP25 was not found in specimens of Echinus esculentus collected from the southwest UK, where sea ice is absent. Our findings provide evidence that the presence of IP25 in macrobenthic organisms can be used across different Arctic regions as a versatile indicator of a diet containing carbon of sea-ice origin.


IP25 Highly branched isoprenoid (HBI) Arctic Food web Macrobenthos Strongylocentrotus 



We thank the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC, UK) (NE/D013216/1) and the Seale-Hayne Educational Trust for funding part of this work. Partial operating funds for the CCGS Amundsen were provided by the International Joint Ventures Fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. We would like to thank Ms. V. Roy and the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe), ArcticNet and Circumpolar Flaw Lead System study (CFL) and the CCGS Amundsen officers and crew for supplying Strongylocentrotus sp. urchins from the Canadian Arctic as well as Dr H. Findlay at Plymouth Marine Laboratories for supplying Strongylocentrotus sp. urchins from Kongsfjorden obtained as part of the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) with received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement n° 211384. We also thank Paul Renaud and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful suggestions on improving this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas A. Brown
    • 1
    Email author
  • Simon T. Belt
    • 1
  • Dieter Piepenburg
    • 2
  1. 1.Biogeochemistry Research Centre, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK
  2. 2.Mainz Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Literature, c/o Institute for Polar EcologyUniversity of KielKielGermany

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