A pioneer morphological and genetic study of the intertidal fauna of the Gerlache Strait (Antarctic Peninsula)

Jossart, Quentin; Bauman, David; Moreau, Camille V.E.; Saucède, Thomas; Christiansen, Henrik; Brasier, Madeleine J.; Convey, Peter ORCID:; Downey, Rachel; Figuerola, Blanca; Martin, Patrick; Norenburg, Jon; Rosenfeld, Sebastian; Verheye, Marie; Danis, Bruno. 2023 A pioneer morphological and genetic study of the intertidal fauna of the Gerlache Strait (Antarctic Peninsula). Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 195 (4), 514. 19, pp.

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The underexplored intertidal ecosystems of Antarctica are facing rapid changes in important environmental factors. Associated with temperature increase, reduction in coastal ice will soon expose new ice-free areas that will be colonized by local or distant biota. To enable detection of future changes in faunal composition, a biodiversity baseline is urgently required. Here, we evaluated intertidal faunal diversity at 13 locations around the Gerlache Strait (western Antarctic Peninsula), using a combination of a quadrat approach, morphological identification and genetic characterization. Our data highlight a community structure comprising four generally distributed and highly abundant species (the flatworm Obrimoposthia wandeli, the bivalve Kidderia subquadrata, and the gastropods Laevilitorina umbilicata and Laevilitorina caliginosa) as well as 79 rarer and less widely encountered species. The most abundant species thrive in the intertidal zone due to their ability to either survive overwinter in situ or to rapidly colonize this zone when conditions allow. In addition, we confirmed the presence of multiple trophic levels at nearly all locations, suggesting that complex inter-specific interactions occur within these communities. Diversity indices contrasted between sampling locations (from 3 to 32 species) and multivariate approaches identified three main groups. This confirms the importance of environmental heterogeneity in shaping diversity patterns within the investigated area. Finally, we provide the first genetic and photographic baseline of the Antarctic intertidal fauna (106 sequences, 137 macrophotographs), as well as preliminary insights on the biogeography of several species. Taken together, these results provide a timely catalyst to assess the diversity and to inform studies of the potential resilience of these intertidal communities.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 01676369
Additional Keywords: Benthic ecology, Community structure, DNA barcoding, Seashore, Southern Ocean
Date made live: 03 Apr 2023 09:27 +0 (UTC)

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