Polar Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 707–713 | Cite as

Glowing in the dark: discriminating patterns of bioluminescence from different taxa during the Arctic polar night

  • Geir Johnsen
  • Mauro Candeloro
  • Jørgen Berge
  • Mark Moline
Original Paper


Research since 2009 has shown that despite almost total darkness during the Arctic polar night, there is much more biological activity than previously assumed, both at the sea surface, water column and sea floor. Here, we describe in situ monitoring of the bioluminescent fraction of the zooplankton community (dinoflagellates, copepods, krill and ctenophores) as a function of time and space. In order to examine the relative contribution of each selected taxon and any diurnal patterns in the relative signals, a time series platform capable of detecting in situ bioluminescent flashes was established in Kongsfjord, Svalbard, during the polar night in January 2013. Combined with laboratory-controlled measurements of animals collected next to the time series platform, we present both taxon-specific and community characteristics of the bioluminescence signal from a location at 79°N and from the middle of the polar night. Based on this 51-h time series, we conclude that the bioluminescent fraction of the zooplankton does not maintain a diurnal signal. Rather, the frequency of bioluminescence flashes from the entire bioluminescent community remained steady throughout the sampling period. Furthermore, we conclude that bioluminescence flash kinetic characteristics have a strong potential for in situ taxa recognition of zooplankton.


Arctic Polar night Marine zooplankton Bioluminescence Copepods Krill Ctenophores 



The work is part of the two NFR projects Circa (Project Number 214271/F20) and Marine Night (Project Number 226417/E10). Furthermore, the work was supported by the CoE AMOS at NTNU (NFR 223254). Thanks are given two three anonymous reviewers for constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geir Johnsen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mauro Candeloro
    • 3
  • Jørgen Berge
    • 2
    • 4
  • Mark Moline
    • 5
  1. 1.Applied Underwater Robotics Laboratory, Department of BiologyNorwegian University of Technology and Science (NTNU)TrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of Arctic BiologyUniversity Centre on Svalbard (UNIS)LongyearbyenNorway
  3. 3.Applied Underwater Robotics Laboratory, Department of Marine TechnologyNorwegian University of Technology and Science (NTNU)TrondheimNorway
  4. 4.Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economy, Institute of Arctic and Marine BiologyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  5. 5.School of Marine Science and PolicyUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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