Polar Biology

, 33:1 | Cite as

Decadal change in macrobenthic soft-bottom community structure in a high Arctic fjord (Kongsfjorden, Svalbard)

  • Monika Kędra
  • Maria Włodarska-Kowalczuk
  • Jan Marcin Węsławski
Original Paper


Marine benthic macrofauna communities are considered a good indicator of subtle environmental long-term changes in an ecosystem. In 1997/1998 and 2006, soft-bottom fauna of an Arctic glacial fjord Kongsfjorden was extensively sampled and major communities were identified along the fjord axis, which were related to the diminishing influence of glacial activity. Spatial patterns in community structure and species diversity were significantly different in the central basin of Kongsfjorden between periods while there was no change in the inner part of the fjord. In 1997/98, three faunal associations were distinguished with significant differences in species richness and diversity (H′) while in 2006 only two faunal associations were identified and there were no differences any more between the two formerly distinct associations in the central fjord. The increased input of Atlantic water due to a stronger West Spitsbergen Current may be the reason for unification of previous clear faunal division. The faunal association in the inner, well separated glacial part of the fjord, characterized by strong glacier influence, was protected from Atlantic water inflow and, hence, the macrobenthic fauna essentially remained unaffected. Reduced abundance of species typical for glacial bays in the central part of the fjord in 2006 may result from the decreasing effect of Blomstrandbreen glacier, strong increase of input of Atlantic water into the fjord and increased temperature of West Spitsbergen Current. Higher values of POC in 2006 than in 1998 are likely the effect of increased primary production resulting from warmer water temperatures.


Long-term changes Diversity Soft-bottom macrobenthos Arctic 



The study was completed thanks to funding provided by grant N304 006 32/0666 from the Polish State Committee for Scientific Research. The Polychaeta identifications were done by Mrs. Slawomira Gromisz who is gratefully acknowledged. 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 Programme of the European Community’s Sixth Framework Programme (contract no. GOCE-CT-2003-505446). This publication is contribution to the MarBEF responsive mode program ArctEco.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monika Kędra
    • 1
  • Maria Włodarska-Kowalczuk
    • 1
  • Jan Marcin Węsławski
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Oceanology PASSopotPoland

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