Antarctic macrobenthic communities: …

Occurrence dataset published by Antarctic Biodiversity Information Facility (ANTABIF)

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Antarctic macrobenthic communities: A compilation of circumpolar information


Comprehensive information on Antarctic macrobenthic community structure is publicly available since the 1960s. It stems from trawl, dredge, grab, and corer samples as well as from direct and camera observations (Table 1). The quality of this information varies considerably; it consists of pure descriptions, figures for presence (absence) and abundance of some key taxa or proxies for such parameters, e.g. sea-floor cover. Some data sets even cover a defined and complete proportion of the macrobenthos with further analyses on diversity and zoogeography. As a consequence the acquisition of data from approximately 90 different campaigns assembled here was not standardised. Nevertheless, it was possible to classify this broad variety of known macrobenthic assemblages to the best of experts knowledge (Gutt 2007; Fig. 1). This overview does not replace statistically sound community and diversity analyses. However, it shows from where which kind of information is available and it acts as an example of the feasibility and power of such data collections. The data set provides unique georeferenced biological basic information for the planning of future coordinated research activities, e.g. under the umbrella of the biology program "Antarctic Thresholds - Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation" (AnT-ERA) of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and especially for actual conservation issues, e.g. the planning of Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Additional Information

Additional files uploaded: list of references (Table 1) & classification of macrobenthic communities (Fig. 1).

Temporal coverages

Date range: 01-Mar-1956 - 21-Feb-2010

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Julian Gutt
Alfred Wegener Institute Columbusstr. 27568 Bremerhaven Germany +49 471 4831 1333
Metadata author
Julian Gutt
Alfred Wegener Institute Columbusstr. 27568 Bremerhaven Germany +49 471 4831 1333
Administrative contact
Julian Gutt
Alfred Wegener Institute Columbusstr. 27568 Bremerhaven Germany +49 471 4831 1333


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Antarctic Biodiversity Information Facility (ANTABIF)

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The area generally covers almost the entire Southern Ocean, including some ice-shelf covered sites. The vast majority of information is from shelf areas around the continent at water depth shallower t… more


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Other Contacts

Barnes David
Senior Scientist
British Anarctic Survey High Cross, Madingley Road CB3 0ET Cambridge United Kingdom +44 1223 221613
Susanne J. Lockhart
Contract Scientist
NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center La Jolla Shore Drive CA 92037 La Jolla California United States +1 858 334 2852
Anton van de Putte
Science Officer
ANTABIF Vautierstraat 29 B-1000 Brussels Brussels Belgium
Julian Gutt

Antarctic macrobenthic communities: A compilation of circumpolar information

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Project Personnel

Julian Gutt



Study extent

Southern Ocean with emphasize on coastal shelf areas and some islands without specific temporal patterns of sampling.

Sampling description

This project aggregates data from various expeditions with a full range of benthic sampling methods, such as grabs, corers, dredges, and trawls as well as non-invasive observations by scuba divers, stationary, towed, or ROV-based still and video-cameras. For detail descriptions see original publications in journals or data repositories (Table 1).

Quality control

A first version of the classification of the macrobenthic communities had been published in a peer-reviewed journal (Gutt 2007). A modified version had been published in the Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment report (ACCE, Turner et al. 2009). The actual version is depicted in Fig. 1.

Method Steps

  1. Attribution of the information from the different sources (for references see Table 1) to the classified macrobenthic assemblages (Fig. 1) was done to the best of experts knowledge. The principal parameter, on which theses assumptions have been made was biomass or a proxy for biomass such as sea-floor coverage. Some information on benthic functioning is also included directly or indirectly, e.g. predation, competition, succession after ice-berg scouring, epi-biotic life-mode and oligotrophic conditions under ice shelves.

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Clarke A, Johnston NM 2003. Antarctic marine benthic diversity. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review 41: 47-114 Gutt J 2007. Antarctic macro-zoobenthic communities: a review and an ecological classification. Antarctic Science 9: 165-182 Turner J, Bindschadler R, Convey P, di Prisco G, Fahrbach E, Gutt J, Hodgson D, Mayewsky P, Summerhayes C 2009. Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment. SCAR, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge; 526pp