Polar Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 993–1011 | Cite as

The longer the better: the effect of substrate on sessile biota in Arctic kelp forests

  • Natalia Shunatova
  • Daria Nikishina
  • Mikhail Ivanov
  • Jørgen Berge
  • Paul E. Renaud
  • Tatiana Ivanova
  • Andrei Granovitch
Original Paper


Kelps are ecosystem engineers and thus enhance biodiversity and subsidize food webs in nearshore areas. Numerous studies describing diversity and abundance of biota associated with kelp have focused on sub-tropical and temperate waters while kelp forests at high latitudes, where kelp is predicted to expand in distribution, remain mostly unexplored. Kelp forests contribute significantly to regional biodiversity, and associated fauna and the kelp themselves play ecologically important roles as habitat and feeding areas. Here, we report patterns in diversity, abundance and seasonal dynamics of fouling organisms associated with different regions of Saccharina latissima and nearby substrates (including stones of the barren ground). The study was conducted in Kongsfjorden, a high Arctic fjord on the west coast of Spitsbergen; and samples were taken five times between September 2013 and January 2015. Trends in species richness of epifauna were similar for stones and holdfasts: higher in winter (due the presence of rare species), and lower in spring and autumn. Species richness and abundance demonstrated a clear tendency to increase in accordance with substrate stability. Stones housed the most diverse biota compared to living substrates. Holdfasts demonstrated similar patterns in species composition and abundance as stones due their close spatial arrangement and presence of demersal larvae in most of fouling organisms. Similarly, assemblages on blades in prostrate kelp forests are influenced by the species inhabiting stones of the barren ground. Both biotic and abiotic factors, including habitat stability and proximity to source populations, contribute to these spatial and temporal patterns in faunal abundance and diversity.


Arctic kelp forest Sessile biota Seasonal dynamics Species richness Abundance Recruitment 



We would like to thank the staff of Kings Bay AS (Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard) for hospitality. Special thanks to Daniel Vogedes, Peter Leopold, Rupert Krapp and Carl Ballantine for their assistance in sampling. We are grateful to Marina Varfolomeeva for her support with data analysis. This study was funded by Norwegian Research Council grant Marine Night (Project Number NRC 226417) and partly by Saint-Petersburg State University project 1.42.1277.2014.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Biological facultySaint-Petersburg State UniversitySaint-PetersburgRussia
  2. 2.Department of Ichthyology and hydrobiology, Biological facultySaint-Petersburg State UniversitySaint-PetersburgRussia
  3. 3.University Centre in SvalbardLongyearbyenNorway
  4. 4.Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and EconomicsUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  5. 5.Fram Centre for Climate and the EnvironmentTromsøNorway

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