Polar Biology

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 65–69 | Cite as

Low colonisation on artificial substrata in arctic Spitsbergen

  • David K. A. BarnesEmail author
  • Piotr Kukliński
Short Note


High polar communities tend to be young because of the frequent and intense impact of ice (scour), so colonisation patterns are particularly important. Yet, despite a wealth of studies at temperate and tropical latitudes, we know of no hard substratum settlement/colonisation experiments reported north of 60°N, to date. Here we report on fauna encrusting square panels immersed at 12 m depth in Isforden, Spitsbergen (Svalbard) after 2 and 3 days, a week and a year. Arctic colonisation is slow but is not species poor. We found no colonists present after 2 and 3 days but two panels were colonised by a bryozoan and polychaetes after a week. After a year immersion, three panels were 3, 5 and 11% covered with a mean of ∼247 colonists. This is about an order of magnitude lower than has been described from most studies elsewhere, but not as low as has been recorded at an Antarctic locality. Most individual colonists (80–93%) were polychaetes (Spirorbis tridentatus) but most of the species were bryozoans. The Arctic is widely described as taxon poor compared with elsewhere, but at the local scale we investigated, species richness (20) was as high or higher than in many similar colonisation studies along the north Pacific or Atlantic coasts. In striking contrast, no settlement panel study has yielded fewer higher taxa (2 phyla, 3 classes) than this high arctic study.


Polychaete Antarctic Peninsula Hard Substratum Hydroid Hermit Crab 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks are due to Dr Maria Wlodarska-Kowalczuk (IO PAS), Dr Marek Zajaczkowski (IO PAS) and Marcin Zajaczkowski for help with panel retrieval. The study has been completed during the Marie Curie Fellowship provided to PK from the European Commission. We thank Prof Lloyd Peck for comments on an early draft of the manuscript and declare that the experiments we performed complied with the current laws of Spitsbergen. We thank three anonymous referees for constructive comments leading to an improved manuscript.


  1. Barnes DKA (1996) Low levels of colonisation in Antarctica: the role of bryozoans in early community development. In: Gordon DP, Smith AM, Grant-Mackie JA (ed) Bryozoans in space and time. Wellington, New Zealand, pp 19–28Google Scholar
  2. Barnes DKA, Kuklinski P (2004) Variability of competition at 101, 103, 105, and 106 m scales: encrusting arctic community patterns. Mar Biol 145:351–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bowden D (2005) Seasonality of recruitment in Antarctic sessile marine benthos. Mar Ecol Prog Ser (in press)Google Scholar
  4. Clarke A, Lidgard S (2000) Spatial patterns of diversity in the sea: bryozoan species richness in the North Atlantic. J Anim Ecol 69:799–814CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Conlan KE, Lenihan HS, Kvitek RG, Oliver JS (1998) Ice scour disturbance to benthic communities in the Canadian high Arctic. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 166:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dayton PK (1989) Interdecadal variation in an Antarctic sponge and its predators from oceanographic climate shifts. Science 245:1484–1486PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dayton PK (1990) Polar benthos. In: Smith WO (ed) Polar Oceanography. Academic Press, London, pp 631–685Google Scholar
  8. Dunton KH (1992) Arctic biogeography: the paradox of the marine benthic fauna and flora. Trends Ecol Evol 7(6):183–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gee JM (1963) Pelagic life of Spirorbis larvae. Nature 198:1109–1110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gutt J, Starmans A, Dieckmann G (1996) Impact of iceberg scouring on polar benthic habitats. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 137:311–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kuklinski P (2001) Bryozoa of the high arctic fjord – a preliminary study. In: Wyse Jackson P, Buttler C, Spencer Jones M (eds) Bryozoan studies 2001. Balkema, Abingdon, pp 175–182Google Scholar
  12. McCook LJ, Chapman ARO (1997) Patterns and variations in natural succession following massive ice-scour of a rocky intertidal seashore. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 214:121–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pearse VB, Pearse JS (1991) Year-long settling plate study yields no Antarctic placozoans, and surprisingly little else. Antarct J U S 149–150Google Scholar
  14. Rauschert M (1991) Ergebnisse der faunistischen Arbeiten im Benthal von King George Island (Südshetlandinseln, Antarktis). Ber Polarforsch 76:1–75Google Scholar
  15. Roy K, Jablonski D, Valentine JW, Rosenberg G (1998) Marine latitudinal diversity gradients: tests of causal hypotheses. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 95:3699–3702CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Schoener A, Long ER, DePalma JR (1978) Geographic variation in artificial island colonization curves. Ecology 59: 367–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Stanwell-Smith D, Barnes DKA (1997) Benthic community development in Antarctica: recruitment and growth on settlement panels at Signy Island. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 212:61–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Turner SJ, Todd CD (1993) The early development of epifaunal assemblages on artificial substrata on two intertidal sites on an exposed rocky shore in St Andrews bay, NE Scotland. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 166: 251–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Węsławski JM, Zajączkowski M, Kwaśniewski S, Jezierski J, Moskal W (1988) Seasonality in an Arctic fjord ecosystem: Horsunfjord, Spitsbergen. Polar Research 6:185–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.British Antarctic SurveyNatural Environment Research CouncilCambridge 
  2. 2.Marine Ecology DepartmentInstitute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of SciencesSopotPoland
  3. 3.Natural History MuseumLondonUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations