Poster Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Exploring Biodiversity Patterns in The Hidden Infaunal Communities of The Antarctic Shelf (#487)

Baptiste Riches 1 2 , Glenn Johnstone 2 , Jan Jansen 1 , Jonny Stark 2 , Nicole Hill 1
  1. Institute of Marine and Antarctic Science, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  2. Australian Antarctic Division, Department of the Environment, Kingston, Tasmania, Australia

Sediment ecosystems make up a large portion of the “vastly unexplored oceans” and hidden just beneath the surface lies the abundant infaunal communities. The Southern Ocean has characteristic cyclical phytoplankton blooms, and stores most of its carbon on the seafloor. Infaunal communities use this food supply year-round and play a vital role in converting it into blue carbon. Here we examine the relationship between the biodiversity of infauna and a newly-derived metric of the surface-derived food available at the seafloor and compare it with other known drivers of biodiversity such as depth and sediment conditions. We also explore and map patterns in the distribution of infaunal communities on the George V continental shelf, East Antarctica using predictive modelling techniques. This information provides a baseline understanding of the distribution and environmental correlates of infaunal communities which is important for assessing proposed spatial management strategies in this region, informing future monitoring and detecting the impacts of climate change on Antarctic benthic ecosystems.