Increased sea ice cover alters food web structure in East Antarctica

Type Article
Date 2019-05
Language English
Author(s) Michel LoicORCID1, Danis Bruno2, Dubois Philippe2, Eleaume Marc3, Fournier Jerome4, Gallut Cyril5, Jane Philip6, Lepoint Gilles1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Laboratory of Oceanology, Freshwater and Oceanic Sciences Unit of reSearch (FOCUS), University of Liège (ULg), Liège, Belgium
2 : Marine Biology Laboratory, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium
3 : Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, EPHE, Paris, France
4 : CNRS, UMR 7208 BOREA, Biological Marine Station, National Museum of Natural History (MNHN), Concarneau, France
5 : Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Sorbonne Université, CNRS, MNHN, EPHE, Station marine de Concarneau, Concarneau, France
6 : Aquarium de Paris - Cinéaqua, Paris, France
Source Scientific Reports (2045-2322) (Springer Science and Business Media LLC), 2019-05 , Vol. 9 , N. 1 , P. 8062 (11p.)
DOI 10.1038/s41598-019-44605-5
WOS© Times Cited 25

In recent years, sea ice cover along coasts of East Antarctica has tended to increase. To understand ecological implications of these environmental changes, we studied benthic food web structure on the coasts of Adélie Land during an event of unusually high sea ice cover (i.e. two successive austral summers without seasonal breakup). We used integrative trophic markers (stable isotope ratios of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur) to build ecological models and explored feeding habits of macroinvertebrates. In total, 28 taxa spanning most present animal groups and functional guilds were investigated. Our results indicate that the absence of seasonal sea ice breakup deeply influenced benthic food webs. Sympagic algae dominated the diet of many key consumers, and the trophic levels of invertebrates were low, suggesting omnivore consumers did not rely much on predation and/or scavenging. Our results provide insights about how Antarctic benthic consumers, which typically live in an extremely stable environment, might adapt their feeding habits in response to sudden changes in environmental conditions and trophic resource availability. They also show that local and/or global trends of sea ice increase in Antarctica have the potential to cause drastic changes in food web structure, and therefore to impact benthic communities.

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Supplementary information S1 – Video footage of sampling conditions 54 MB Open access
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