Production and Biomass of Seaweeds in Newly Ice-Free Areas: Implications for Coastal Processes in a Changing Antarctic Environment

The Antarctic rocky coasts are mainly colonized by extensive macroalgal communities, which play key roles as food resource, habitat and refuge for many benthic and pelagic organisms. Due to climate warming, Antarctic marine ecosystems are being affected by glacier retreat opening new habitats, e.g. newly ice-free areas that can be colonized by macroalgae. As a consequence, primary production and fate of macroalgae are changing in these new polar environments. In these ecosystems, the carbon production, especially from large brown algae, is an important food source to the benthic invertebrate communities mainly when other resources are scarce.