Polar Biology

, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 1035–1046 | Cite as

Soft bottom species richness and diversity as a function of depth and iceberg scour in Arctic glacial Kongsfjorden (Svalbard)

  • Jürgen LaudienEmail author
  • Marko Herrmann
  • Wolf E. Arntz
Original Paper


Macrozoobenthic soft-sediment communities of central Arctic Kongsfjorden inhabiting six depth zones between 5 and 30 m were sampled using SCUBA-diving during June–August 2003 and analysed comparatively. About 63 taxa were found, nine of which had not been reported for Kongsfjorden and four for Svalbard. Suspension feeding or surface and sub-surface detritivorous polychaetes and deposit-feeding amphipods were dominant. Only 11 of the 63 taxa (45 species and additional 18 families not further identified) inhabited the complete depth range. Biomass ranged from 3.5 to 25.0 g ash free dry mass m−2 and mean Shannon diversity (Log e) was 2.06. Similarity clustering from abundance and biomass data showed a significant difference between the shallow station (5 m) and the rest. The latter formed two sub-groups (10–20 and 25–30 m). Depth is irrevocably correlated with ice-scouring. Thus the differences in diversity together with the predicted iceberg scour intensity support the ‘intermediate disturbance hypothesis’ indicating that habitats impacted by moderate iceberg scouring enable higher diversity. In contrast, biotopes frequently affected only host pioneer communities, while mature, less diverse assemblages dominate depths of low impact.


Biodiversity Feeding modes Ice-scouring Intermediate disturbance hypothesis Macrozoobenthos Soft-sediment 



This work would not have been possible without the cold water adapted scientific diving group of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). Our deepest thanks are expressed for support during the field work, especially to Saskia Brandt, Tilman Alpermann, Drs. Jose Velez, Ricardo Sahade and Michael Assmann. We are also very grateful to Dr. Andreas Bick who was a great help in identifying polychaetes, Dr. Jørgen Berge who supported the identification of amphipods and Dr. Jon-Arne Sneli for this help with the identification of the molluscs. Chris Everett corrected the English. Two anonymous reviewers made comments, which improved the original manuscript considerably.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jürgen Laudien
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marko Herrmann
    • 1
  • Wolf E. Arntz
    • 1
  1. 1.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany

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