Due to its unique geological location, the Bering Sea is an ideal place to investigate the water exchange and ecosystem connectivity of the Pacific Ocean–Arctic Ocean and subarctic–Arctic region. Based on a number of summer surveys (July to September, 2010, 2012 and 2014), macrobenthic communities and their spatial-temporal patterns are exhibited for the majority of the Bering Sea (53°59′–64°36′N). The results show that the macrobenthic communities were dominated by northern cold-water species and immigrant eurythermic species, and the communities assumed a dispersed and patchy distribution pattern. Polychaetes (Scoloplos armiger), crustaceans (Ceradocus capensis) and sea urchins (Echinarachnius parma) were the main dominant groups in the shallow shelves; the sea star (Ctenodiscus crispatus) and the brittle star (Ophiura sarsii) were the main dominant groups in the continental slope; whereas small polychaetes (Prionospio malmgreni) dominated the basin area. Sediment type, water depth, and currents were the major factors affecting the structure and spatial distribution of the macrobenthic communities. Compared with other seas, the shallow areas of the Bering Sea showed an extremely high-standing biomass. In particular, the northern shelf area (north of St. Lawrence Islands and west of 170°W), which is primarily controlled by Anadyr Water, is an undersea oasis. In contrast, a deficiency in the downward transport of particulate organic carbon has resulted in a desert-like seabed in the basin area. By comparing our results to previous studies, we found that macrobenthic communities of the Bering Sea have undergone significant structural changes in recent decades, resulting in a decrease in abundance and an increase in biomass. In addition, populations of amphipods and bivalves in the northern shelves have decreased significantly and have been gradually replaced by other species. These changes might be associated with advanced seasonal ice melting, changes in organic carbon input, and global warming, indicating that large-scale ecosystem changes have been occurring in the Bering Sea.
Heshan LIN, Kun LIU, Jianjun WANG, Yaqin HUANG, Zhong LI, Junhui LIN, Xuebao HE, Shuyi ZHANG, Jianfeng MOU, Yu WANG, Bingpeng XING. Spatial pattern of macrobenthic communities along a shelf-slope-basin transect across the Bering Sea[J]. ACTA OCEANOLOGICA SINICA, 2018, 37(6): 72-81. doi: 10.1007/s13131-018-1192-6.