Polar Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 125–142 | Cite as

Demersal fish assemblages in the boreo-Arctic shelf waters around Svalbard during the warm period 2007–2014

  • Odd Aksel Bergstad
  • Edda Johannesen
  • Åge Høines
  • Kari E. Ellingsen
  • Vidar S. Lien
  • Ingvar Byrkjedal
  • Nigel G. Yoccoz
  • Torkild Tveraa
  • Rupert Wienerroither
  • Gunnar Langhelle
  • Thomas de Lange Wenneck
Original Paper


The temporal and spatial resilience of abundance patterns of assemblages of organisms inhabiting transition zones between Arctic and boreal regions is an issue of concern in relation to climate change. The recognition that baseline information spanning such transition zones is required to facilitate future monitoring and assessments of temporal dynamics provided the motivation for the present study. One such transition area is the Svalbard archipelago of the Northeast Atlantic, located between the Arctic and the boreal Atlantic, where significant climate changes occur. The study aimed to utilize an existing data series from Svalbard to analyse and describe demersal fish assemblage structure and distributions. Norwegian bottom trawl surveys sampled the area annually in August–September 2007–2014, and the dataset is the first from this area which is sufficiently comprehensive to carry out assemblage analyses. The survey years analysed represent the recent unprecedented warm period in the Barents Sea–Svalbard region which started around 2004. The new baseline information improves the basis for future studies of resilience under changing environmental conditions. A key finding was that the major transition in species composition is that between deep Greenland Sea and Arctic Ocean assemblages (upper slope assemblages) and the shelf assemblages. In shallower shelf areas (<500 m depth) structuring is weaker with assemblages having many species in common. The expected association of fish assemblages with regional bathymetric and hydrographic features was confirmed. The observed patterns probably reflect a comparatively extensive Atlantic influence during the warm period.


Baseline Fishes Distributions Arctic Atlantic Svalbard 



The authors are grateful to the many technicians and scientists and research vessel crew who participated in surveys and otherwise contributed to the study, and to Andrey Dolgov for comments and provision of Russian literature. This work was partly financed by the Research Council of Norway (Project No. 234359/E40) and the Fram Centre.

Supplementary material

300_2017_2176_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (363 kb)
Data set used in the analysis (XLSX 363 kb)


  1. Andriyashev AP, Chernova NV (1995) Annotated list of fish-like vertebrates and fishes of the Arctic Seas and adjacent waters. J Ichthyol 34:435–456Google Scholar
  2. Anon (2007) Survey report from the joint Norwegian/Russian ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea August-October 2007 (vol.1). IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series, No. 4/2007Google Scholar
  3. Anon (2009a) Survey report from the joint Norwegian/Russian ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea August-October 2008 (vol.1). IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series, No. 1/2009Google Scholar
  4. Anon (2009b) Survey report from the joint Norwegian/Russian ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea August-October 2009. IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series, No. 2/2010Google Scholar
  5. Anon (2010) Survey report from the joint Norwegian/Russian ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea August-September 2010. IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series, No. 4/2010Google Scholar
  6. Anon (2011) Survey report from the joint Norwegian/Russian ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea August-October 2011. IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series, No. 3/2011Google Scholar
  7. Årthun M, Ingvaldsen RB, Smedsrud LH, Schrum C (2011) Dense water formation and circulation in the Barents Sea. Deep-Sea Res I 58:801–817CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Aschan M, Fossheim M, Greenacre M, Primicerio R (2013) Change in fish community structure in the Barents Sea. PLoS ONE 8:e62748. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062748 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Bergstad OA, Bjelland O, Gordon JDM (1999) Fish communities on the slope of the eastern Norwegian Sea. Sarsia 84:67–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Beszczynzka-Möller A, Fahrbach E, Schauer U, Hansen E (2012) Variability in Atlantic water temperature and transport at the entrance to the Arctic Ocean, 1997-2010. ICES J Mar Sci 69:852–863CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Blindheim J (1989) Cascading of Barents Sea bottom water into the Norwegian Sea. Rapports et procès-verbaux des réunions. Conseil permanent international pour L´exploration de la mer 188:49–58Google Scholar
  12. Bochkov YA (1982) Water temperature in the 0-200 m layer in the kola-meridian section in the Barents Sea, 1900-1981. Sbornik Nauchnyx Trudov PINRO 46:113–122 (in Russian) Google Scholar
  13. Boitsov VD, Drevetnyak KV, Seliverstova EI, Smirnov OV, Tereschschenko VV, Ushakov NG, Shevelev MS, Shleinik VN (2004) History of Russian fishery investigations and fisheries of biological resources of Spitsbergen archipelago. In: Shevelev MS (ed) Investigations by PINRO in the Spitsbergen archipelago area. PINRO Press, Murmansk pp 28–36 (in Russian)Google Scholar
  14. Burgos GE (1989) The bottom fish community of the Barents Sea in the winters 1984 to 1987. Dissertation, University of BergenGoogle Scholar
  15. Byrkjedal I, Høines Å (2007) Distribution of demersal fish in the south-western Barents Sea. Polar Res 26:135–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Christensen JS, Reist JD (2013) Fishes. In: Meltofte H (ed) Arctic biodiversity assessment status and trends in Arctic biodiversity. Akureyri, Iceland, pp 192–245Google Scholar
  17. Cottier FR, Nilsen F, Inall ME, Gerland S, Tverberg V, Svendsen H (2007) Wintertime warming of an Arctic shelf in response to large-scale atmospheric circulation. Geophys Res Lett 34:L10607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dolgov AV (2004) Non-target fishes and skates. In: Shevelev MS (ed) Investigations by PINRO in the Spitsbergen archipelago area. PINRO Press, Murmansk, pp 229–274 (In Russian) Google Scholar
  19. Dolgov AV, Johannesen E, Høines Å (2011) Main species and ecological importance. In: Jakobsen T, Ozhigin VK (eds) The Barents Sea - ecosystem, resources and management. Half a century of Russian-Norwegian cooperation. Tapir Academic Press, Trondheim, pp 193–200Google Scholar
  20. Dray S, Dufour A-B, Thioulouse J (2016) Analysis of ecological data: exploratory and euclidean methods in environmental sciences. Accessed 20 June 2017
  21. Eriksen E (ed) (2012) Survey report from the joint Norwegian/Russian ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea August-October 2012. IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series, No. 2/2012Google Scholar
  22. Eriksen E (ed) (2014) Survey report from the joint Norwegian/Russian ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea and adjacent waters, August-October 2014. IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series, No. 1/2015Google Scholar
  23. Fer I, Drinkwater K (2014) Mixing in the Barents Sea Polar Front near Hopen in spring. J Mar Syst 130:206–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fossheim M, Nilssen EM, Aschan M (2006) Fish assemblages in the Barents Sea. Mar Biol Res 2:260–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fossheim M, Primicerio R, Johannesen E, Ingvaldsen RB, Aschan M, Dolgov AV (2015) Recent warming leads to a rapid borealization of fish communities in the Arctic. Nature Clim Change 5:673–677CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gotelli NJ, Colwell RK (2001) Quantifying biodiversity: procedures and pitfalls in the measurement and comparison of species richness. Ecol Lett 4:379–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Greenacre M (2013) The contributions of rare objects in correspondence analysis. Ecology 94:241–249CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Haug T, Bogstad B, Chierici M et al (2017) Future harvest of living resources in the Arctic Ocean north of the Nordic and Barents Seas: a review of possibilities and constraints. Fish Res 188:38–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. ICES (2014) Report from NAFO/ICES Pandalus Assessment Working Group Meeting, 83 pp. ICES CM 2014/ACOM:14Google Scholar
  30. Ingvaldsen RB (2005) Width of the North Cape current and location of the Polar Front in the western Barents Sea. Geophys Res Lett 32:L16603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Johannesen E, Høines ÅS, Dolgov AV, Fossheim M (2012) Demersal fish assemblages and spatial diversity patterns in the Arctic-Atlantic transition zone in the Barents Sea. PLoS ONE 7:e34924. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034924 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. Johannesen E, Jørgensen LL, Fossheim M, Primicerio Raul, Greenacre Michael, Lubin P, Dolgov AD, Ingvaldsen RB, Anisimova N, Manushyn I (2016) Joint response to environmental gradients by Barents Sea mega-benthos and demersal fish communities. Polar Biol. doi: 10.1007/s00300-016-1946-6 Google Scholar
  33. Johannesen E, Mørk HL, Korsbrekke K et al. (2017) Arctic fishes in the Barents Sea 2004-2015: Changes in abundance and distribution. IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series, No.1/2017Google Scholar
  34. Jongman RHG, ter Braak CJF, van Tongeren OFR (1995) Data analysis in community and landscape ecology, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jørgensen LL, Ljubin P, Skjoldal HR, Ingvaldsen RB, Anisimova N, Manushin I (2015) Distribution of benthic megafauna in the Barents Sea: baseline for an ecosystem approach to management. ICES J Mar Sci 72:595–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kortsch S, Primicerio R, Fossheim M, Dolgov A, Aschan M (2015) Climate change alters the structure of Arctic marine food webs due to poleward shifts of boreal generalists. Proc R Soc B 282:20151546CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Lien VS, Ådlandsvik B (2014) Bottom water formation as a primer for spring-blooms on Spitsbergenbanken? J Mar Syst 130:241–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lien VS, Vikebø FB, Skagseth Ø (2013a) One mechanism contributing to co-variability of the Atlantic inflow branches to the Arctic. Nat Commun 4:1488CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. Lien VS, Gusdal Y, Albretsen J, Melsom A, Vikebø FB (2013b) Evaluation of a Nordic Seas 4 km numerical ocean model archive. Fisken og Havet 7Google Scholar
  40. Lien VS, Gusdal Y, Vikebø FB (2014) Along-shelf hydrographic anomalies in the Nordic Seas (1960-2011): locally generated or advective signals? Ocean Dyn 64:1047–1059CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lind S, Ingvaldsen RB (2012) Variability and impacts of Atlantic Water entering the Barents Sea from the north. Deep-Sea Res I 62:70–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Loeng H (1991) Features of the physical oceanographic conditions of the Barents Sea. Polar Res 10:5–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mecklenburg CW, Møller PR, Steinke D (2011) Biodiversity of arctic marine fishes: taxonomy and zoogeography. Mar1 Biodivers 41:109–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nilsen F, Cottier F, Skogseth R, Mattsson S (2008) Fjord-shelf exchanges controlled by ice and brine production: the interannual variation of Atlantic Water in Isfjorden, Svalbard. Cont Shelf Res 28:1838–1853CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Oksanen J, Guillaume Blanchet F, Friendly M, Kindt R, Legendre P, McGlinn D, Minchin PR, O’Hara RB, Simpson GL, Solymos P, Stevens MHH, Szoecs E, Wagner H (2016) Ordination methods, diversity analysis and other functions for community and vegetation ecologists. Accessed 20 June 2017
  46. Onarheim IH, Smedsrud LH, Ingvaldsen RB, Nilsen F (2014) Loss of sea ice during winter north of Svalbard. Tellus A 66:23933CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Onarheim IH, Eldevik T, Årthun M, Ingvaldsen RB, Smedsrud LH (2015) Skillful prediction of Barents Sea ice cover. Geophys Res Lett 42:5364–5371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ozhigin V, Ingvaldsen RB, Loeng H, Boitsov V, Karsakov A (2011) Introduction to the Barents Sea. In: Jakobsen T, Ozhigin V (eds) The Barents Sea ecosystem, resources, management. Half a century of Russian-Norwegian cooperation. Tapir Academic Press, Trondheim, pp 39–76Google Scholar
  49. Parsons AR, Bourke RH, Muench RD, Chiu CS, Lynch JF, Miller JH, Plueddemann AJ, Pawlowicz R (1996) The Barents Sea Polar Front in summer. J Geophys Res 101:14201–14221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pfirman SL, Bauch D, Gammelsrød T (1994) The northern Barents Sea: water mass distribution and modification. In: Johannessen OM et al (eds) The polar oceans and their role in shaping the global environment. American Geophysical Union, Washington DC, pp 77–94Google Scholar
  51. Pnyushkov AV, Polyakov IV, Ivanov VV, Kikuchi T (2013) Structure of the Fram Strait branch of the boundary current in the Eurasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean. Polar Sci 7:53–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Polyakov IV, Bhatt US, Walsh JE, Abrahamsen EP, Pnyushkov AV, Wassmann PF (2013) Recent oceanic changes in the Arctic in context of long-term observations. Ecol Appl 23:1745–1764CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Prokhorova T (ed) (2013) Survey report from the joint Norwegian/Russian ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea and adjacent waters, August-October 2013. IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series, No. 4/2013Google Scholar
  54. R Core Team (2017) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Accessed 20 June 2017
  55. Sarynina RN (1969) Conditions of origin of cold deep-sea waters in the Bear Island Channel. Paper presented at the Symposium on Physical Variability in the North Atlantic. 23-27 September, Dublin, IrelandGoogle Scholar
  56. Shapiro GI, Hill AE (2003) The alternative density structures of cold/saltwater pools on a sloping bottom: the role of friction. J Phys Oceanogr 33:390–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Skagseth Ø (2008) Recirculation of Atlantic Water in the western Barents Sea. Geophys Res Lett 35:L11606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Skagseth Ø, Furevik T, Ingvaldsen RB, Loeng H, Mork KA, Orvik KA, Ozhigin V (2008) Volume and heat transports to the Arctic Ocean via the Norwegian and Barents Seas. In: Dickson R, Meincke J, Rhines P (eds) Arctic Subarctic ocean fluxes: defining the role of the Northern Seas in climate. Springer, New York, pp 45–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Smirnov OV, Dolgov AV, Guzenko VV, Lepesevich YuM, Ozerov YuB (2000) New data on hydrological regime and ichthyofauna of the archipelagos Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land. In: Materials of reporting session of the PINRO Scientific council on results of investigations from 1998 to 1999. Part 1. PINRO Press, Murmansk, pp 79-92 (in Russian)Google Scholar
  60. Spielhagen RF, Werner K, Sørensen SA, Zamelczyk K, Kandiano E, Budeus G, Husum K, Marchitto TM, Hald M (2011) Enhanced Modern Heat Transfer to the Arctic by Warm Atlantic Water. Science 331:450–453CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Tereschenko VV (1997) Seasonal and year-to-year variation in temperature and salinity of the main currents along the Kola section in the Barents Sea. Knipovich Polar Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography, Murmansk (In Russian)Google Scholar
  62. Townhill BL, Maxwell D, Engelhard GH, Simpson SD, Pinnegar JK (2015) Historical arctic logbooks provide insights into past diets and climatic responses of cod. PLoS ONE 10(9):e0135418. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135418 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  63. Walczowski W, Piechura J, Goszczko I, Wieczorek P (2012) Changes in Atlantic water properties: an important factor in the European Arctic marine climate. ICES J Mar Sci 69:864–869CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wassmann P, Kosobokova KN, Slagstad D, Drinkwater KF, Hopcroft RR, Moore SE, Ellingsen I, Nelson RJ, Carmack E, Popova E, Berge J (2015) The contiguous domains of Arctic Ocean advection: trails of life and death. Prog Oceanogr 139:42–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wienerroither R, Johannesen E, Dolgov A, Byrkjedal I, Bjelland O, Drevetnyak K, Eriksen KB, Høines Å, Langhelle G, Langøy H, Prokhorova T, Prozorkevich D, Wenneck T (2011) Atlas of the Barents Sea Fishes. IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series 1/2011Google Scholar
  66. Wienerroither R, Johannesen E, Dolgov AV, Byrkjedal I, Aglen A, Bjelland O, Drevetnyak K, Eriksen, KB, Høines Å, Langhelle G, Langøy H, Murashko P, Prokhorova T, Prozorkevich D, Smirnov O, Wenneck T (2013) Atlas of the Barents Sea Fishes based on winter survey data. IMR/PINRO Joint Report Series 2/2013Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Odd Aksel Bergstad
    • 1
  • Edda Johannesen
    • 1
  • Åge Høines
    • 1
  • Kari E. Ellingsen
    • 2
  • Vidar S. Lien
    • 1
  • Ingvar Byrkjedal
    • 3
  • Nigel G. Yoccoz
    • 2
    • 4
  • Torkild Tveraa
    • 2
  • Rupert Wienerroither
    • 1
  • Gunnar Langhelle
    • 3
  • Thomas de Lange Wenneck
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Marine ResearchNordnesNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchTromsøNorway
  3. 3.University Museum BergenBergenNorway
  4. 4.Department of Arctic and Marine BiologyUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway

Personalised recommendations