Year-round utilization of sea ice-associated carbon in Arctic ecosystems

Chelsea W. Koch, Thomas A. Brown, Rémi Amiraux, Carla Ruiz-Gonzalez, Maryam Maccorquodale, Gustavo A. Yunda-Guarin, Doreen Kohlbach, Lisa L. Loseto, Bruno Rosenberg, Nigel E. Hussey, Steve H. Ferguson, David J. Yurkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Sea ice primary production is considered a valuable energy source for Arctic marine food webs, yet the extent remains unclear through existing methods. Here we quantify ice algal carbon signatures using unique lipid biomarkers in over 2300 samples from 155 species including invertebrates, fish, seabirds, and marine mammals collected across the Arctic shelves. Ice algal carbon signatures were present within 96% of the organisms investigated, collected year-round from January to December, suggesting continuous utilization of this resource despite its lower proportion to pelagic production. These results emphasize the importance of benthic retention of ice algal carbon that is available to consumers year-round. Finally, we suggest that shifts in the phenology, distribution and biomass of sea ice primary production anticipated with declining seasonal sea ice will disrupt sympagic-pelagic-benthic coupling and consequently the structure and the functioning of the food web which is critical for Indigenous Peoples, commercial fisheries, and global biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2023


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