Long-term fluctuations of soft-bottom intertidal community structure affected by ice cover at two small sea bights in the Chupa Inlet (Kandalaksha Bay) of the White Sea
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The effect on bottom organisms of periodic freezing of the upper layer of intertidal sediments during abnormal cold winters has been studied for a long time in seas of a moderate climatic zone. However, the effect of ice cover every year on intertidal communities in polar seas is still poorly investigated. Seasonal and long-term variation in the structure of intertidal soft-bottom communities in two small bights in the White Sea with annual ice cover was studied for over two decades. Sampling was carried out four times a year, in the hydrological spring, summer, autumn, and winter. It was found that bottom macrobenthic communities at upper and lower horizons of the intertidal distinctly differed in the studied sites. Periodic changes caused by the effect of abnormal ice conditions, including the partial removal by ice of sediment with in situ organisms, were discovered. Recovery of communities after disturbance normally took less than half a year. Communities at the lower and upper horizons of the intertidal zone were more stable than intermediate communities, which led to periodic shifts of the biological border between lower and upper intertidal assemblages.
KeywordsLong-term dynamics Intertidal benthos Soft-bottom Community structure Ice disturbance White Sea
The material was mainly collected by three people: Dr. V.V. Fedaykov participated in the work between 1987 and 1999, Dr. M.V. Fokin between 2000 and 2009, and the author since 1989 to the present. I am very grateful to both named scientists for their longstanding collaboration. Our colleagues Dr. K.V. Galaktionov, Dr. K.E. Nikolaev, and Dr. I.A. Levakin kindly helped us in winter fieldwork over the last 10 years. I acknowledge their invaluable assistance. I thank numerous students of Saint Petersburg State University for their help with fieldwork. I am very grateful to anonymous reviewers and Guest Editor for their useful comments. This study was funded from different sources: as a scheduled research topic of the Zoological Institute RAS, by the research grant from the Commission of the European Communities INCO-Copernicus-II ICA2-CT-2000-10053, and by the program of fundamental research of the Branch of Biological Sciences Russian Academy of Sciences “Biological resources of Russia: estimation of state and essential principles of monitoring” and by the program of fundamental research of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences “Biological diversity”.
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