The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

No barrier to emergence of bathyal king crabs on the Antarctic shelf

Aronson, R.B., Smith, K.E., Vos, S.C., McClintock, J.B., Amsler, M.O., Moksnes, P.O., Ellis, D.S., Kaeli, J.W., Singh, H., Bailey, J.W., Schiferl, J.C., van Woesik, R., Martin, M.A., Steffel, B.V., Deal, M.E., Lazarus, S.M., Havenhand, J.N., Swalethorp, R., Kjellerup, S. and Thatje, S. (2015) No barrier to emergence of bathyal king crabs on the Antarctic shelf Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, (42), pp. 12997-13002.

Record type: Article


Cold-water conditions have excluded durophagous (skeleton-breaking) predators from the Antarctic seafloor for millions of years. Rapidly warming seas off the western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) could now facilitate their return to the continental shelf, with profound consequences for the endemic fauna. Among the likely first arrivals are king crabs (Lithodidae), which were discovered recently on the adjacent continental slope. During the austral summer of 2010?2011, we used underwater imagery to survey a slope-dwelling population of the lithodid Paralomis birsteini off Marguerite Bay, WAP for environmental or trophic impediments to shoreward expansion. The average density was ~4.5 ind·1000m-2 within a depth-range of 1100?1500 m (overall observed depth-range 841–2266 m). Evidence of juveniles, molting, and precopulatory behavior suggested a reproductively viable population on the slope. At the time of the survey, there was no thermal barrier to prevent the lithodids from expanding upward and emerging on the outer shelf (400–500 m depth); however, near-surface temperatures remained too cold for them to survive in shallow, coastal environments (<200 m). Ambient salinity, composition of the substrate, and the depth-distribution of potential predators likewise indicated no barriers to expansion onto the outer shelf. Primary food resources for lithodids—echinoderms and mollusks—were abundant on the upper slope (500–800 m) and outer shelf. At present rates of warming, lithodids should emerge in outer-shelf environments within several decades. As sea temperatures continue to rise, they will likely play an increasingly important trophic role in subtidal communities closer to shore.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 20 October 2015
Keywords: biological invasion, polar emergence, climate change, predation, Southern Ocean
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science


Local EPrints ID: 381289
ISSN: 0027-8424
PURE UUID: 0838a253-7d93-47f0-8b17-f0e34c20316d

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 15 Sep 2015 09:02
Last modified: 27 Sep 2017 13:20

Export record


Author: R.B. Aronson
Author: K.E. Smith
Author: S.C. Vos
Author: J.B. McClintock
Author: M.O. Amsler
Author: P.O. Moksnes
Author: D.S. Ellis
Author: J.W. Kaeli
Author: H. Singh
Author: J.W. Bailey
Author: J.C. Schiferl
Author: R. van Woesik
Author: M.A. Martin
Author: B.V. Steffel
Author: M.E. Deal
Author: S.M. Lazarus
Author: J.N. Havenhand
Author: R. Swalethorp
Author: S. Kjellerup
Author: S. Thatje

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.