Determination of seasonal development and community composition of sympagic meiofauna in Van Mijenfjorden

The project studies the seasonal development and community composition of sympagic meiofauna in a seasonally ice-covered fjord (Van Mijenfjorden). Samples will be collected along a transect from a river delta to the deeper parts of the fjord. Fauna samples will be analysed molecularly to identify organisms to a genus/species level.

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Project type

  • field work
  • arctic field grant (afg)


  • marine biology
  • other

Project Keywords

  • biological classification / plants / microalgae
  • biological classification / plants
  • biological classification / animals/invertebrates

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The project will be a sub-project of the FAABulous project (RiS ID 10383) and thus all data will be made readily available to numerous institutes. The data collected will be used as part of my master thesis. Sea ice is a vital part of the Arctic ecosystem, as both flora and fauna utilize it as a habitat, feeding, breeding and nursery ground. Sympagic (ice-associated) fauna tends to inhabit either the brine channels, that form within the ice as a result of salt ion ejection, or the underside of the ice. Fauna that inhabits the brine channels mainly consists of pelagic and benthic larvae, such as polychaete larvae, nematodes and acoel turbellarians. Even though sea ice plays such an essential role in the life cycle of organisms, little biological studies have been done on sea ice in the European Arctic and very little to no work has been conducted on first-year ice (FYI). A few studies have been conducted on Svalbard, which investigated ice algal concentrations in Rijpfjorden [Leu et al. (2010); Søreide et al. (2010)]. However, no studies have looked at what sympagic meiofauna inhabits FYI in the European Arctic. Some data was gathered in 2014 and 2015, but more data is needed in order to fully validate the findings from those years and in a more orderly manner. Thus, this projects aims to further investigate the seasonal development and community composition of sympagic meiofauna in Van Mijenfjorden. This will be done by sampling ice cores, for both biotic and abiotic factors, along a transect from a river delta to the deeper parts of Van Mijenfjorden. This will provide insight on how faunal assemblages vary depending on the environmental parameters in the fjord and help to establish some trends in conjunction with the previously collected data. A big focus of this project is the molecular analysis of samples collected in 2015 and the specimens that will be collected in 2017. This will mean that a species inventory for sympagic meiofauna in the European Arctic can be build.

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