By: Wan Mohd Rauhan Wan Hussin, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu
Response of polar and tropic benthic communities following environmental changes surveyed. Impacts of environmental changes on the benthic organisms are more apparent in a polar than in a tropic ecosystem.
Global warming has been an issue of concern, and one of the related problems that worries us all is to what extent the warming world could lead to environmental changes and destruction. Many studies have been carried out to investigate the impacts of environmental changes on marine ecosystems. While studies mostly focus on single, specific geographical regions, studies that compare geographically separate areas are still scarce. A study involving Korea Polar Research Institute, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and Yayasan Penyelidikan Antartika Sultan Mizan was carried out to determine the response of benthic invertebrate communities following environmental changes at two different ecosystems; namely polar and tropic. In this sense, the environmental changes in polar and tropic ecosystems are represented by glacier melting and monsoon seasons, respectively.
The study on the polar community was carried out in Marian Cove, King George Island, West Antarctic Peninsula, whilst the study in the tropical region was carried out in Bidong Island, East Coast Peninsula, Malaysia. It may have been predicted that, when comparing the benthic communities of both ecosystems, the polar communities might be less sensitive than their tropic counterparts, due to their ability to cope well with extreme conditions.
However, based on our findings this was not necessarily true as the tropic benthic communities appeared to be less sensitive than the polar communities (Fig. 1). Nevertheless, the above mentioned case was only true for the species diversity, whereas the functional diversity at both ecosystems seemed to be affected. This suggests that the removal of a single or several species (especially in tropic) may have affected the function of the whole community. This study gave an early indication of how both the different communities would respond to the changes. A wider spatial scale of study is expected to increase the understanding of this response.
References: Moon H.W., Wan Hussin W.M.R., Kim H.C., Ahn I.Y. 2015. The impacts of climate change on Antarctic nearshore mega-epifaunalbenthic assemblages in a glacial fjord on King George Island: Responses and implications. Ecological Indicators 57:280-292. Wan Hussin W. M. R., 2016 Comparing the structure and function of the Antarctic and Tropic benthic communities following environmental changes. AACL Bioflux 9(6):1244-1250.