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Soft-bottom macrobenthic faunal associations and factors affecting species distributions in an Arctic glacial fjord (Kongsfjord, Spitsbergen)
Wlodarska-Kowalczuk, M.; Pearson, T.H. (2004). Soft-bottom macrobenthic faunal associations and factors affecting species distributions in an Arctic glacial fjord (Kongsfjord, Spitsbergen). Polar Biol. 27(3): 155-167
In: Polar Biology. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; Heidelberg. ISSN 0722-4060; e-ISSN 1432-2056, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Wlodarska-Kowalczuk, M., more
  • Pearson, T.H., more

    The Kongsfjord (west Spitsbergen) hosts the most active glacier on the island. Therefore the glacial impact on the marine ecosystem is very pronounced and easily recognisable. The study examines the influence ofthe steep glacier-derived environmental gradients on dominant macrofaunal species distributions and faunalassociations in the fjord. The macrobenthic fauna was sampled by van Veen grab at 30 stations situatedthroughout the fjord (at depths 38-380 m). Two major communities were recognised. An inner basin receivesthe outflows from three glaciers and is occupied by a Glacial Bay Community dominated by small, surfacedetritus-feeders, with Chone paucibranchiata and a set of thyasirid and nuculanid bivalves (Thyasira dunbari, Yoldiella solidula, Y. lenticula) as characteristic species. An outer basin of the fjord is characterised by a common set of dominant species, including Heteromastus filiformis, Maldane sarsi, Levinsenia gracilis, Lumbrineris sp. and Leitoscoloplos sp. Three associations may be distinguished within the Outer Basin Community. Association TRANS is of transitional character, with Nuculoma tenuis and Terebellides stroemi. Association CENTR is the most typical for the community. It is dominated by tube-dwelling Prionospio sp., Clymenura polaris, Galathowenia oculata and Spiochaetopterus typicus. Association ENTR contains shelf benthos elements, e.g. Ophiura robusta and Lepeta caeca. An opportunistic eurytopic Chaetozone group is present throughout the fjord and its density and dominance increase with proximity to the glaciers. Dominant species distribution is discussed in relation to environmental factors, of which sediment stability, inorganic particle concentration, sedimentation rate and amount of organic matter in sediments are considered to be most important in structuring the communities.

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