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Ecology of stone-encrusting organisms in the Greenland Sea—a review

Authors


Piotr Kuklinski, Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Powstańców Warszawy 55, Sopot PL-81-712, Poland. E-mail: kuki@iopan.gda.pl

Abstract

The Arctic is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth. This area is therefore very suitable for conducting studies focused on the influence of climate change on the biota. Marine communities of coastal waters are particularly sensitive to the current environmental changes (e.g., ice-scour intensity); understanding how community structure changes in response to local perturbations is thus important for providing an insight into how future communities may respond to climate change. This review focuses on the fauna colonizing stones of the Greenland Sea. It summarizes the current state of knowledge about the ecology of organisms inhabiting these substrata across a range of depths, from the intertidal to deeper parts of the continental shelf. In the intertidal zone, no stable or developed assemblage on the rocks is visible. The intertidal zone seems to be fully controlled by physical forces. In contrast, below the intertidal zone a rich and abundant fauna starts to appear on these substrata. Both biotic (e.g., competitive interactions) and abiotic (e.g., ice scour, size of the rock) processes seem to shape stone assemblages in the subtidal zone, yet their influence varies with depth. For example, the abundance of encrusting organisms decreases with depth, as does the intensity of competitive interactions. However, species richness on rocks seems to be in general higher in the deeper parts of the shelf. Possible scenarios of climate change influence on the encrusting biota, gaps in our knowledge about the ecology of stone-dwelling faunal assemblages, as well as possible directions of future research, are discussed.

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