Original Paper

Polar Biology

, Volume 28, Issue 8, pp 619-630

First online:

Composition of bryozoan assemblages related to depth in Svalbard fjords and sounds

  • Piotr KuklinskiAffiliated withInstitute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of SciencesThe University Center on SvalbardNatural History Museum Email author 
  • , Bjørn GulliksenAffiliated withThe University Center on SvalbardDepartment of Aquatic Biology, Norwegian College of Fishery Science
  • , Ole Jorgen LønneAffiliated withInstitute of Marine Research
  • , Jan Marcin WeslawskiAffiliated withInstitute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences

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Svalbard bryozoan communities were investigated along a depth range from the surface to 296 m between the inner glacial fronts and fjord mouths during 2001 and 2002. The main study area was Kongsfjorden (79°N, 12°E). A total of 137 taxa of bryozoans were identified: 108 to species, 24 to genus, 3 to family, 1 to order and 1 to phylum level. Cluster and multidimensional scaling analyses revealed four distinct assemblages of bryozoans: shallow (0–40 m; 68 taxa), deep (40–296 m; 80 taxa), inner fjordic (three taxa) and an assemblage found on small stones in shallow waters (nine taxa). The inner fjordic assemblage was recorded from the front of tidal glaciers extending about 10 km out into the fjord. In terms of abundance, Celleporella hyalina Linnaeus dominated in shallow areas (18%), Hippothoa arctica Kluge (55%) in deep water, Alcyonidium disciforme Smitt (86%) proximate to glaciers fronts and Electra arctica Borg on small stones (98%). The species were classified according to their depth range as a stenobathic-shallow (46 taxa), stenobathic-deep (57 taxa) and eurybathic-generalist (21 taxa). Mean diversity measures did not show any significant differences between the shallow and deep communities. The bryozoan assemblages seem to be structured primarily by processes related to depth and sediment characteristics.