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Antarctic Research Series



  • Ecology—Research—Antarctica—Antarctic Peninsula Region

Index Terms

  • 4207 Oceanography: General: Arctic and Antarctic oceanography
  • 4804 Oceanography: Biological and Chemical: Benthic processes/benthos
  • 4815 Oceanography: Biological and Chemical: Ecosystems, structure and dynamics



The distribution of Antarctic marine benthic communities

Andrew Clarke

British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, U.K.

The Polar Frontal Zone, although predominantly a surface feature, forms a natural northernmost boundary for defining the Southern Ocean, and relatively few benthic organisms have distributions which cross this boundary. Many Antarctic benthic plants and animals have circumpolar distributions but some broad geographical subdivisions may be made. Detailed studies of community distribution are few in Antarctica, but heterogeneity has been demonstrated on all spatial scales. The Southern Ocean has a rich fauna compared with the much younger Arctic basin, and there is no convincing evidence either for or against a universal latitudinal cline in diversity in the southern hemisphere to match that well described from the northern hemisphere. Shallow water distributions are strongly affected by ice-related processes, and this leads to a strong vertical zonation in the biological assemblages of sublittoral habitats.

Citation: Clarke, A. (1996), The distribution of Antarctic marine benthic communities, in Foundations for Ecological Research West of the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarct. Res. Ser., vol. 70, edited by E. E. Hofmann, R. M. Ross, and L. B. Quetin, pp. 219–230, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/AR070p0219.


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