Ice-based freshwater ecosystems
This chapter describes the physical, chemical, and biotic features of the main types of ice-based aquatic ecosystems. Dark-coloured sediments on and in ice enhance absorption of solar radiation, promote melting, and the formation of habitats of varying sizes and longevity. These range from ‘bubbles’ within glacial and perennial lake ice (~10-2 m diameter), cryoconite holes (~10-1 -100 m diameter) on ice surfaces to large melt lakes (~101 - 102 m diameter) and rivers on ice shelves and ice sheets. For the most part, the development of ice-based aquatic ecosystems depends on liquid water. Communities are predominantly microbial, with cyanobacteria and algae dominating the phototrophs, while microinvertebrates with stress-tolerate strategies (rotifers, tardigrades, and nematodes) are also present. The chapter argues that ice-based ecosystems represent important biodiversity elements within polar landscapes, and would have been essential refugia from which polar region ecosystems recovered after periods of extended glaciation.
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