So, if the poles are slowly melting away, will icy habitats actually increase their extent as icebergs disperse to low latitudes and pack ice fractures? If you’re a glacial squid (pictured above) you might see your habitat opening-up a little bit, unlucky for you because you’re ‘an abundant mid-water Antarctic species, and an important prey item for larger predators’.
Is Antarctica a polar desert or is every polynya an oasis? Who knows? It’s the last major land mass of the world that remains to be explored. Ice edge environments are highly productive, though. Localized phytoplankton blooms create large amounts of biogenic material, but only for a short period of time (Smith & Leson 1986)
Stay tuned for these and other icy thoughts that flew by as I looked through New Zealand’s ScienceLearn website on Icy Ecosystems. There’s a lot to dig into. The photos are fantastic, and word on the street is an Census of Antarctic Marine Life Expedition is involved here somewhere. I’ll try to hit some more highlights over the course of the next week.