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Rapid change in shallow water fish species composition in an historically stable Antarctic environment

  • Bradley A. Buckley (a1)

Abstract

McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, is home to a unique marine biota with an ecology that has evolved in this frigid environment over millions of years. The region is one of the least disturbed, and possibly the last pristine, marine ecosystem on Earth. Here, the results of three seasons of fishing in the shallow nearshore waters of McMurdo Sound are reported. A shift in the composition of small fish species at one site, Inaccessible Island, has been observed in just five years. The shift in shallow water species composition occurred during a period that followed the maturation of a commercial fishery for the Antarctic toothfish, Dissostichus mawsoni Norman, a predator of smaller fish, and the presence of a large iceberg, termed B-15, at the mouth of McMurdo Sound during the early 2000s that trapped the annual sea ice in the area leading to the unusual accrual of multi-year sea ice. The data presented here provide a current record of species composition and physiological condition of small, shallow water fishes at three sites in McMurdo Sound, providing a current baseline for the assessment of future changes wrought by environmental changes and unprecedented fishery pressures in the Ross Sea.

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Keywords

Rapid change in shallow water fish species composition in an historically stable Antarctic environment

  • Bradley A. Buckley (a1)

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