Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010: Indicator #10, Arctic Sea Ice Ecosystems

Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010: Indicator #10, Arctic Sea Ice Ecosystems

Sea ice represents a unique ecosystem in the Arctic, providing habitat to specialized iceassociated species that include microorganisms, fish, birds, and marine mammals. Individual species use sea ice in different ways depending on their biological needs. Ice algae form the base of the food web. Some algae stay attached to the bottom of the ice, some fall into the water column, and some fall to the bottom of the sea, and so provide food for species that feed at different depths. Protists (single-celled organisms) and zooplankton eat the algae which are then eaten by, for instance, Arctic cod, Boreogadus saida and sea birds (e.g. dovekie, Alle alle), which in turn act as the major link to other fish and birds, seals, and whales. Polar bears, Ursus maritimus, prey upon seals from the ice and walrus, Odobenus rosmarus, forage on clams from drifting pack ice.


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