Aarhus University Seal

Subtidal benthic recruitment in a sub-Arctic glacial fjord system: Temporal and spatial variability and potential drivers.

New publication by S.B. Ørberg, D. Krause-Jensen, L. Meire, and M.K. Sejr.


Increasing glacial discharge may influence future recruitment patterns and growth rates of marine benthos in glacial fjords as changes in surface-water temperature and salinity as well as an increase in ice-scouring events. We deployed settling plates at three spatial and temporal scales in a sub-Arctic glacial fjord system to quantify spatial and temporal variation in the recruitment rates and early growth of subtidal marine benthos, and to determine potential drivers of recruitment. We found significant spatial variation in recruitment of benthos (flora and fauna) at both the small (20 m) and large (> 30 km) scale, indicating that both abiotic and biotic factors may be important. We observed that substrate modification by bushy macroalgae facilitated Mytilus spp. settlement, yet limited Semibalanus balanoides recruitment, underlining that timing in settlement of different species is important in structuring benthic communities. Spatial variation in physical parameters, such as temperature and salinity, likely affected growth and recruitment patterns of benthos (S. balanoides). Finally, we found large spatial and temporal variation in kelp recruitment varying from none to 5866 ind. m−2, with an annual production of more than 6000 g dw m−2 year−1. This large growth potential of kelp suggests recruitment as a bottleneck in kelp population dynamics. Conclusively, variation in sub-Arctic benthic recruitment and growth patterns may respond to changes in temperature and salinity, yet further effort is needed to elucidate potential drivers of benthic recruitment in a fast changing Arctic environment.

Polar Biol. doi.org/10.1007/s00300-018-2390-6