Polar Biology

, Volume 31, Issue 10, pp 1181–1190 | Cite as

Distribution and diversity of sipunculan fauna in high Arctic fjords (west Svalbard)

  • Monika Kędra
  • Maria Włodarska-Kowalczuk
Original Paper


Sipuncula is a relatively species poor and generally rarely investigated phylum; nonetheless, it may play a considerable role in the ecosystem. During this study sipunculan species distribution patterns in four fjords of west Spitsbergen (Kongsfjorden, Hornsund, Isfjorden and van Mijenfjorden) were examined. Material was collected during ten cruises undertaken from 1997 to 2006. A total of 381 samples were taken at 132 stations located in the four fjords and, a total number of 920 sipunculans specimens were found in 114 of those samples. The highest sipunculan species richness was observed in Hornsund (six species), followed by Kongsfjorden and Isfjorden (five species in each fjord). Sipunculan fauna in all fjords was strongly dominated by Golfingia vulgaris (80% of all sipunculan individuals in Kongsfjorden), and Golfingia margaritacea (84% in van Mijenfjorden and 40% in Hornsund) or Nephasoma diaphanes (54% in Isfjorden). Locally, sipunculans were found in high densities (max. 62 ind. 0.1 m−2 and up to 11% of macrobenthic densities) and biomass (max. 110.87 g 0.1 m−2 and up to 80% of total fauna biomass). At such sites, sipunculans may play an important role in bioturbation of sediments and as a food source for higher trophic levels. Sipunculans did not occur within close proximity of the glacier where they might be eliminated due to high sedimentation rate and low amounts of organic matter. Because of their importance in benthic systems, a need to include sipunculans in routine macrobenthic surveys is emphasized.


Sipuncula West Svalbard Arctic Fjords Diversity Distribution 



We would like to express our deep thanks to Dr. Vantsetti Murina for help in identifying the sipunculan specimens. Many thanks to the Museum of National Natural History Museum Naturalis in Leiden, Museum of Natural History in Copenhagen and Museum für Naturkunde of the Humboldt-Universität Berlin for providing the access to their collection. We would like to acknowledge the financial support of the European Commission’s Research Infrastructure Action via the SYNTHESYS Project. The authors acknowledge the support of the MarBEF Network of Excellence ‘Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning’, which is funded by the Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems Program of the European Community’s Sixth Framework Program (contract no. GOCE-CT-2003-505446). This publication is contribution number MPS-08028 of MarBEF and is a contribution to the MarBEF responsive mode program ArctEco.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Oceanology PASSopotPoland

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