Stylasterid coral community dynamics in the Larsen area, east Antarctic Peninsula

Claudio.Richter [ at ]


The eastern Antarctic Peninsula is characterized by large-scale disintegrations of the Larsen A and B ice shelves in 1995 and 2002, respectively, widely viewed as consequences of global warming. Stylasterid communities of the Larsen A and B embayment in the eastern Antarctic Peninsula were investigated to obtain information regarding their role in the Antarctic benthic ecosystem and their response to large-scale ice-shelf disintegration. The study compares video and photo transects of the expeditions with the RV Polarstern in 2007 and 2011. Data allowed temporal as well as spatial analyses and comparison of the stylasterid communities. The analyses include the identification and distribution of species, abundances, growth and quantification of branching patterns. Errina gracilis was found to be the most abundant species in the Larsen A and B area. Two other species of Errina were present along with one species of Inferiolabiata. The diversity of stylasterids was found to be greater in the Larsen B area, but the densest accumulations were found in the southern part of the Larsen A area. An increase in 86 % of abundance was observed in this area and a linear growth of the colonies of 3 mm within 4 years. In addition, a positive correlation between coral size and branching patterns was found, which facilitates the future analysis of coral size using video or photographic material without a reference scale. For conservation and protection purposes of Antarctic benthic ecosystems, an understanding of organisms and processes is needed. However, only very few studies focus on the diversity of Antarctic stylasterid corals.

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Hammerl, C. (2019): Stylasterid coral community dynamics in the Larsen area, east Antarctic Peninsula , Master thesis, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research and University of Hamburg.

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