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Temporal shift in biomass and production of macrozoobenthos in the macroalgal belt at Hansneset, Kongsfjorden, after 15 years

Abstract

In Arctic macroalgal belt ecosystems, macrozoobenthic production is thought to be an important link between primary production and higher trophic levels. Macrozoobenthic biomass and secondary production were studied along transects (2.5–15 m depth) in the macroalgal belt at Hansneset in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard, from 2012 to 2013. At 2.5 m, the standing stock reached its maxima of 174.8 ± 54.4 g ash-free dry weight per 1 m2, while density (4341 ind. m−2 ± 1127 95 % CI) and production (7.0 g C m−2 y−1 ± 2.8 95 % CI) were highest at 5 m water depth in 2012/13. Compared to a study from 1996/98, this re-sampling indicated a drastic change in the depth distribution of macrozoobenthic biomass and secondary production at Hansneset. While both biomass and secondary production increased with water depth in 1996/98, this pattern was inversed in 2012/13 owing to a tenfold increase in biomass and secondary production in the upper most sublittoral (2.5–5 m). Variability of macrozoobenthic biomass and secondary production corresponded to differences in the physical environment and macroalgal vegetation along the depth gradient. In the last decade, the number of ice-free days per year increased probably due to Arctic warming. As a result, shallow rocky habitats (2.5–5 m) are less affected by ice scouring, thereby opening new space for colonisation by benthic fauna. However, faunal secondary production was low compared to macroalgal primary production, indicating a considerable export of most of the algal production from the shallow habitats to the adjacent areas.

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Acknowledgments

This work was performed as part of the long-term project KOL 06 “The biology of Arctic benthic algae” at the International Arctic Environmental Research and Monitoring Facility at Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen, Norway. We would like to express thanks to the AWI diving team, the logistic support by the AWIPEW station and Kings Bay. We also acknowledge the efforts of numerous field assistants, all contributing scientists and technicians K. Hübner, P. Kadel, B. Hussel, E. Lacchini and C. de la Vega, who helped sorting and analysing the samples presented in this study.

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Correspondence to Martin Paar.

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This article belongs to the special issue on the “Kongsfjorden ecosystem – new views after more than a decade of research”, coordinated by Christian Wiencke and Haakon Hop.

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Paar, M., Voronkov, A., Hop, H. et al. Temporal shift in biomass and production of macrozoobenthos in the macroalgal belt at Hansneset, Kongsfjorden, after 15 years. Polar Biol 39, 2065–2076 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-015-1760-6

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Keywords

  • Arctic
  • Macrozoobenthic
  • Kelp-associated fauna
  • Benthic biomass
  • Somatic production
  • P/B ratio
  • Kongsfjorden