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The abundance and distribution of echinoderms in nearshore hard-bottom habitats near Anvers Island, western Antarctic Peninsula

  • Brittny A. White (a1), James McClintock (a1), Charles D. Amsler (a1), Christopher L. Mah (a2), Margaret O. Amsler (a1), Stephanie White (a3), Langdon B. Quetin (a3) and Robin M. Ross (a3)...
Abstract

Echinoderms are well represented in nearshore hard-bottom (< 100 m depth) habitats along the Antarctic Peninsula where they are presumably important contributors to benthic production, carbon flow, and determinants of community structure. The present study assesses the densities of echinoderms at shallow depths (2–15 m) at five sampling sites within three kilometres of Anvers Island on the central western Antarctic Peninsula. The asteroids Odontaster validus, Granaster nutrix, Lysasterias perrieri and Adelasterias papillosa, two ophiuroids in the Amphiuridae, the holothuroids Psolicrux coatsi and Psolus carolineae and one representative of the Cucumaridae, and the regular echinoid Sterechinus neumayeri were enumerated. Mean total echinoderm densities were high (34.9 individuals m-2) and ranged from 21.9 individuals m-2 for asteroids to 2.7 individuals m-2 for holothuroids. With the exception of a positive relationship between the abundance of the regular echinoid Sterechinus neumayeri and the biomass of the brown alga Himanthothallus grandifolius, no significant relationships were found between the abundance of asteroids, ophiuroids, or holothuroids and two species of brown algae or three algal ecotypes. The present study indicates nearshore hard-bottom echinoderms are important in the carbon cycle and their inherent vulnerability to ocean acidification may have community-level impacts.

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*corresponding author: mcclinto@uab.edu
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Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
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