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Polar Marine Communities

PAUL K. DAYTON, B. J. MORDIDA, F. BACON
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icb/34.1.90 90-99 First published online: 1 February 1994

Abstract

SYNOPSIS. This paper offers a sweeping but very superficial review of the marine biology of polar seas. The marine systems in the Arctic and Antarctic have in common polar positions and cold temperatures, otherwise they are strikingly different. The Arctic has broad shallow continental shelves with seasonally fluctuating physical conditions and a massive fresh water impact in the northern coastal zones. However, it has a low seasonality of pack ice and little vertical mixing. In contrast, the Antarctic has over twice the oceanic surface area, deep narrow shelves, and, except for ice cover, a relatively stable physical environment with very little terrestrial input. The Antarctic has great pack ice seasonality and much vertical mixing. Primary productivity in the polar areas tends to be strongly pulsed with the zooplankton lagging behind; however there are many exceptions to such generalizations. Most recent research has focused on specific patterns and processes resulting in biological hot spots such as predictable leads in the ice, polynyas, oceanographic fronts, areas of intense mixing, and the marginal ice zone. This review attempts to weave these recent oceanographic studies into the geological history of each habitat in an effort to develop a holistic understanding of the biological processes

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