ANTARCTIC RESEARCH SERIES, VOL. 70, PP. 219-230, 1996
The distribution of Antarctic marine benthic communities
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