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Cyanobacterial diversity of Svalbard Archipelago

Abstract

Arctic ecosystems contain a variety of habitats that are colonized by cyanobacteria. They are of fundamental ecological importance; they contribute to both carbon and nitrogen fixation as well as frequently acting as ecosystem engineers. The exploration of cyanobacteria in the Svalbard Archipelago began in the nineteenth century. A previously published list of cyanobacteria from the Svalbard Archipelago (Skulberg in: Elvebakk and Prestrud (eds) Terrestrial and limnic algae and cyanobacteria, Norsk Polarinstitutt, Skrifer, Oslo 1996) included 89 cyanobacterial species. Since then, several articles have been written and knowledge about the diversity of cyanobacteria has increased. This study summarizes the results of the inventory of Cyanobacterial species in the Svalbard Archipelago. The cyanobacterial flora of Svalbard was analyzed based on our data and literature records. Cyanobacterial samples were studied under a light microscope. Species were identified based on morphological characteristics only. As a result of this analysis, we compiled an annotated list of the cyanobacteria of Svalbard. A total of 292 species of cyanobacteria were recorded in the archipelago. 84 of these species are reported here for the first time. This makes Svalbard's flora the richest in cyanobacteria of any area in the Eurasian Arctic. Information on the distribution, description of habitats, and substrate preferences of the cyanobacteria was included for all taxa. The composition of the Cyanobacterial flora of Svalbard was compared with the flora of other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, revealing that the flora of Svalbard exhibited typical Arctic features. For instance, the proportions of the main Cyanobacterial orders and families are the same in Svalbard and the rest of the Eurasian Arctic. The Cyanobacterial composition in the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas conforms to the general pattern of declining species diversity with increasing latitude.

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Acknowledgements

The work was performed with Russian Science Foundation support project No. 21-14-00029 (https://rscf.ru/project/21-14-00029/) and research work no. AAAA-A18-118050490088-0. The research was done using large-scale research facilities Herbarium at the Polar-Alpine Botanical Garden-Institute (KPABG; Kirovsk, Russia) reg. No. 499397. I am grateful to Angela Carver for the English language edits.

Funding

The study was carried out within institutional research project of the Avrorin Polar-Alpine Botanic Garden-Institute, RAS, No. 0229-2016-0004 and with Russian Science Foundation support project No. 21-14-00029 (https://rscf.ru/project/21-14-00029/).

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Davydov, D. Cyanobacterial diversity of Svalbard Archipelago. Polar Biol 44, 1967–1978 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-021-02931-3

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Keywords

  • Arctic
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Distribution
  • Svalbard Archipelago
  • Diversity