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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Who is where? - Unravelling the biodiversity of sympagic meiofauna in and around Svalbard

Tildelt: kr 76 999

Sympagic (=ice) meiofauna is an indispensable part of a very complex food web in the Arctic, playing a crucial role for many ice-associated organisms and the whole Arctic ecosystem since sympagic meiofauna comprise primarily of larval stages of seafloor and open-water living animals. But Arctic sea ice biodiversity and functioning are still poorly understood since these larval stages are challenging to identify to species level and thus, we lack information on which specific species that utilize the sea ice as a feeding ground, which in turn will be negatively impacted by the global warming and disappearance of sea ice. In this study I will generate data on taxonomic diversity and abundance of sympagic meiofauna in land-fast sea ice in Svalbard and compare it with pack-ice of the Arctic Ocean. Making this study more valuable, I will take annual and seasonal changes into account by including data sampled from earlier years and seasons, which not yet have been analysed to species level. I aim to obtain an overview of Svalbard’s sea ice metazoan biodiversity and relate environmental conditions to answer how changes in climatic conditions will impact those unique ecosystems in the ice. In more detail, I will analyse taxonomic diversity and abundance of sympagic meiofauna in fjords in Svalbard and relate the data to biotic and abiotic environmental conditions. Further, morphological measurements of body sizes will be done to determine growth to address the importance of sea ice as nursery ground for accelerated growth early in the season. In addition, I will also include an active comparison of meiofauna in Arctic pack ice in the Arctic Ocean, to obtain a more holistic picture of the importance of sea ice as habitat/nursery ground in the Arctic. To sum up, in this study I will compile selected data on sympagic meiofauna biodiversity from earlier years with my new collected data from 2024, both from land-fast sea ice and the pack-ice in the Arctic Ocean.


SSF-Svalbard Science Forum