Seaweed biodiversity in the south-western Antarctic Peninsula: surveying macroalgal community composition in the Adelaide Island/Marguerite Bay region over a 35-year time span

Abstract

The diversity of seaweed species of the south-western Antarctic Peninsula region is poorly studied, contrasting with the substantial knowledge available for the northern parts of the Peninsula. However, this is a key region affected by contemporary climate change. Significant consequences of this change include sea ice recession, increased iceberg scouring and increased inputs of glacial melt water, all of which can have major impacts on benthic communities. We present a baseline seaweed species checklist for the southern Adelaide Island and northern Marguerite Bay region, combining data obtained during a small number of surveys completed in 1973–1975 and a 6-week intensive diving-based field campaign in 2010–2011. Overall, with a total of 41 macroalgal species recorded (7 brown, 27 red, 6 green, 1 chrysophyte), the region is species-poor compared to the north of the Antarctic Peninsula, and even more so in comparison with the sub-Antarctic. The key canopy-forming species is Desmarestia menziesii, which is abundant in Antarctic Peninsula waters, but lacking in the sub-Antarctic. Himantothallus grandifolius, which is a common species further north in the Antarctic phytobenthos, was absent in our recent collections. This paper also reports the first record of Aplanochytrium sp. (Labyrinthulomycetes) from this part of Antarctica and in association with Elachista sp.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the UK Natural Environment Research Council for funding to FCK, in particular through WP 4.5 of Oceans 2025 to the Scottish Association for Marine Science and through the Antarctic Funding Initiative Collaborative Gearing Scheme (grant CGS-70, 2010, to FCK and PC). PvW acknowledges funding from the BBSRC, NERC and the University of Aberdeen. PC is supported by NERC funding to the BAS core programme Ecosystems, while PB, AM and FCK would like to thank the Joint Nature Conservancy Council for funding support. We thank David Smyth, Jonathan James, John Withers and Terrie Souster (British Antarctic Survey) for support with diving operations around Rothera in December 2010 and January 2011, Matt von Tersch (BAS), Sharon Duggan (BAS) and Julia Kleinteich (University of Konstanz) for support with logistics and laboratory work while at Rothera. We are grateful to Konstantinos Tsiamis (Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Anavyssos) for help with identifying seaweed specimens. We also thank Richard Moe for critically reading the manuscript, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions. Finally, special thanks are due to Dawn Shewring for support with algal culturing and molecular work.

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Correspondence to Frithjof C. Küpper.

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Mystikou, A., Peters, A.F., Asensi, A.O. et al. Seaweed biodiversity in the south-western Antarctic Peninsula: surveying macroalgal community composition in the Adelaide Island/Marguerite Bay region over a 35-year time span. Polar Biol 37, 1607–1619 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-014-1547-1

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Keywords

  • Aplanochytrium sp.
  • Climate change
  • Desmarestia menziesii
  • Marine macroalgae
  • Maritime Antarctic
  • Ice recession