Polar Biology

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 295–305 | Cite as

Multidecadal stability of benthic community structure in a high-Arctic glacial fjord (van Mijenfjord, Spitsbergen)

  • Paul E. Renaud
  • Maria Włodarska-Kowalczuk
  • Hilde Trannum
  • Børge Holte
  • Jan Marcin Węsławski
  • Sabine Cochrane
  • Salve Dahle
  • Bjørn Gulliksen
Original Paper


Long-term change in benthic community structure may have significant impact on ecosystem functions. Accelerating climate change and increased human activity in the Arctic suggest that benthic communities in this region may be expected to exhibit change over time scales coinciding with these potential stressors. In 2000 and 2001, we resampled the soft-sediment communities of van Mijenfjord, a semi-closed (silled) fjord system on the west coast of Spitsbergen, following initial surveys in 1980. Multivariate community analyses and biodiversity indices identified distinct regions within the fjord. The communities characteristic of two regions were very similar to those sampled 20 years earlier. Regions corresponded with fjord basins and to community patterns and diversity gradients identified for many other Arctic fjords. Benthic communities in open (unsilled) fjords in the area have recently been shown to respond to decadal scale climatic fluctuation. We suggest that semi-closed fjords may be less susceptible to this type of environmental variability, and that communities are shaped by an interaction of impacts from local topography, glacial runoff, local circulation patterns, and faunal life-history traits. Open and closed fjords may respond to climatic warming trends in different ways, resulting in a subsequent divergence in spatial patterns of resident communities.


Community Structure Benthic Community Benthic Fauna Benthic Community Structure Fjord System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors acknowledge funding from the Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani for the 2000 and 2001 sampling and preliminary analyses. R. Palerud, F. Beuchel, J. Skarðhamar, W. Ambrose, and A. Aitken provided insights and access to unpublished data. We thank the officers and crews of R/V Oceania and R/V Johan Ruud for their cooperation and assistance in the field. The manuscript benefited from comments of three anonymous reviewers. The authors acknowledge the support by 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 number MPS-06034 of MarBEF, and a contribution to the MarBEF responsive mode program ArctEco.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul E. Renaud
    • 1
  • Maria Włodarska-Kowalczuk
    • 2
  • Hilde Trannum
    • 1
    • 3
  • Børge Holte
    • 4
  • Jan Marcin Węsławski
    • 2
  • Sabine Cochrane
    • 1
  • Salve Dahle
    • 1
  • Bjørn Gulliksen
    • 5
  1. 1.Akvaplan-niva AS, Polar Environmental CenterTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Institute of Oceanology PASSopotPoland
  3. 3.Norwegian Institute for Water ResearchOsloNorway
  4. 4.Fylkesmannen i TromsTromsøNorway
  5. 5.Norwegian College of Fisheries ScienceUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

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