Radionuclides in the Arctic echinoderms have seldom been studied despite their considerable environmental importance. This manuscript covers the results of 90Sr and 137Cs measurements in common echinoderm taxa collected from the Svalbard Bank in the Barents Sea and from two High-Arctic fjords (Isfjorden and Magdalenefjorden). We focused on the echinoid, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, the asteroid, Henricia sanguinolenta, and the ophiuroid, Ophiopolis aculeata. For all echinoderms, the analysis revealed a negative correlation between 90Sr activity and the mass. Thus, we concluded that metals are accumulated faster at a young age when the growth is most rapid. The highest average activities of 137Cs followed the order O. aculeata>H. sanguinolenta>S. droebachiensis. This suggests that bioaccumulation was highly taxon-dependent and could reflect differences in the isotope exposures associated with the diet of echinoderms. The study provides a baseline for understanding radionuclide processes in the High-Arctic benthic echinoderm communities.
Recently, there have been several studies using open top chambers (OTCs) or cloches to examine the response of Arctic plant communities to artificially elevated temperatures. Few, however, have investigated multitrophic systems, or the effects of both temperature and vertebrate grazing treatments on invertebrates. This study investigated trophic interactions between an herbivorous insect (Sitobion calvulum, Aphididae), a woody perennial host plant (Salix polaris) and a selective vertebrate grazer (barnacle geese, Branta leucopsis). In a factorial experiment, the responses of the insect and its host to elevated temperatures using open top chambers (OTCs) and to three levels of goose grazing pressure were assessed over two summer growing seasons (2004 and 2005). OTCs significantly enhanced the leaf phenology of Salix in both years and there was a significant OTC by goose presence interaction in 2004. Salix leaf number was unaffected by treatments in both years, but OTCs increased leaf size and mass in 2005. Salix reproduction and the phenology of flowers were unaffected by both treatments. Aphid densities were increased by OTCs but unaffected by goose presence in both years. While goose presence had little effect on aphid density or host plant phenology in this system, the OTC effects provide interesting insights into the possibility of phenological synchrony disruption. The advanced phenology of Salix effectively lengthens the growing season for the plant, but despite a close association with leaf maturity, the population dynamics of the aphid appeared to lack a similar phenological response, except for the increased population observed.
A previous study of 76 plant species on Spitsbergen in the High Arctic concluded that structures resembling arbuscular mycorrhizas were absent from roots. Here, we report a survey examining the roots of 13 grass and forb species collected from 12 sites on the island for arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) colonisation. Of the 102 individuals collected, we recorded AM endophytes in the roots of 41 plants of 11 species (Alopecurus ovatus, Deschampsia alpina, Festuca rubra ssp. richardsonii, putative viviparous hybrids of Poa arctica and Poa pratensis, Poa arctica ssp. arctica, Trisetum spicatum, Coptidium spitsbergense, Ranunculus nivalis, Ranunculus pygmaeus, Ranunculus sulphureus and Taraxacum arcticum) sampled from 10 sites. Both coarse AM endophyte, with hyphae of 5-10 µm width, vesicles and occasional arbuscules, and fine endophyte, consisting of hyphae of 1-3 µm width and sparse arbuscules, were recorded in roots. Coarse AM hyphae, vesicles, arbuscules and fine endophyte hyphae occupied 1.0-30.7, 0.8-18.3, 0.7-11.9 and 0.7-12.8% of the root lengths of colonised plants, respectively. Principal component analysis indicated no associations between the abundances of AM structures in roots and edaphic factors. We conclude that the AM symbiosis is present in grass and forb roots on Spitsbergen.
Mosses dominate many northern ecosystems and their presence is integral to soil thermal and hydrological regimes which, in turn, dictate important ecological processes. Drivers, such as climate change and increasing herbivore pressure, affect the moss layer thus, assessment of the functional role of mosses in determining soil characteristics is essential. Field manipulations conducted in high arctic Spitsbergen (78 degrees N), creating shallow (3 cm), intermediate (6 cm) and deep (12 cm) moss layers over the soil surface, had an immediate impact on soil temperature in terms of both average temperatures and amplitude of fluctuations. In soil under deep moss, temperature was substantially lower and organic layer thaw occurred 4 weeks later than in other treatment plots; the growing season for vascular plants was thereby reduced by 40%. Soil moisture was also reduced under deep moss, reflecting the influence of local heterogeneity in moss depth, over and above the landscape-scale topographic control of soil moisture. Data from field and laboratory experiments show that moss-mediated effects on the soil environment influenced microbial biomass and activity, resulting in warmer and wetter soil under thinner moss layers containing more plant-available nitrogen. In arctic ecosystems, which are limited by soil temperature, growing season length and nutrient availability, spatial and temporal variation in the depth of the moss layer has significant repercussions for ecosystem function. Evidence from our mesic tundra site shows that any disturbance causing reduction in the depth of the moss layer will alleviate temperature and moisture constraints and therefore profoundly influence a wide range of ecosystem processes, including nutrient cycling and energy transfer.
Material from Spitsbergen (Norway) collected by Spitzenberger (1996) was reinvestigated. A new genus Arctocypris and a new species Arctocypris. fuhrmanni n. gen. n. sp. are described in the present paper. A key to the genera of the subfamily Eucypridinae is provided. At the moment Arctocypris n. gen. comprises four species: Arctocypris arctica (Olofsson, 1918) comb. nov.; A. dulcifons (Diebel & Pietrzeniuk, 1969) comb. nov.; A. foveata (Delorme, 1968) comb. nov. and Arctocypris fuhrmanni n. gen., n. sp.
Permafrost soils are unique habitats in polar environment and are of great ecological relevance. The present study focuses on the characterization of bacterial communities from permafrost profiles of Svalbard, Arctic. Counts of culturable bacteria range from 1.50?×?103 to 2.22?×?105 CFU?g-1 , total bacterial numbers range from 1.14?×?105 to 5.52?×?105 cells?g-1 soil. Bacterial isolates are identified through 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Arthrobacter and Pseudomonas are the most dominant genera, and A. sulfonivorans, A. bergeri, P. mandelii, and P. jessenii as the dominant species. Other species belong to genera Acinetobacter, Bacillus, Enterobacter, Nesterenkonia, Psychrobacter, Rhizobium, Rhodococcus, Sphingobacterium, Sphingopyxis, Stenotrophomonas, and Virgibacillus. To the best of our knowledge, genera Acinetobacter, Enterobacter, Nesterenkonia, Psychrobacter, Rhizobium, Sphingobacterium, Sphingopyxis, Stenotrophomonas, and Virgibacillus are the first northernmost records from Arctic permafrost. The present study fills the knowledge gap of culturable bacterial communities and their chronological characterization from permafrost soils of Ny-Ålesund (79°N), Arctic.
BACKGROUND: Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are major predators in the Arctic marine ecosystem, feeding mainly on seals, and living closely associated with sea ice. Little is known of their gut microbial ecology and the main purpose of this study was to investigate the microbial diversity in faeces of polar bears in Svalbard, Norway (74-81 degrees N, 10-33 degrees E). In addition the level of blaTEM alleles, encoding ampicillin resistance (ampr) were determined. In total, ten samples were collected from ten individual bears, rectum swabs from five individuals in 2004 and faeces samples from five individuals in 2006. RESULTS: A 16S rRNA gene clone library was constructed, and all sequences obtained from 161 clones showed affiliation with the phylum Firmicutes, with 160 sequences identified as Clostridiales and one sequence identified as unclassified Firmicutes. The majority of the sequences (70%) were affiliated with the genus Clostridium. Aerobic heterotrophic cell counts on chocolate agar ranged between 5.0 x 10(4) to 1.6 x 10(6) colony forming units (cfu)/ml for the rectum swabs and 4.0 x 10(3) to 1.0 x 10(5) cfu/g for the faeces samples. The proportion of ampr bacteria ranged from 0% to 44%. All of 144 randomly selected ampr isolates tested positive for enzymatic beta-lactamase activity. Three % of the ampr isolates from the rectal samples yielded positive results when screened for the presence of blaTEM genes by PCR. BlaTEM alleles were also detected by PCR in two out of three total faecal DNA samples from polar bears. CONCLUSION: The bacterial diversity in faeces from polar bears in their natural environment in Svalbard is low compared to other animal species, with all obtained clones affiliating to Firmicutes. Furthermore, only low levels of blaTEM alleles were detected in contrast to their increasing prevalence in some clinical and commensal bacterial populations.
The aim of this study was to determine the amount of organic and inorganic carbon in foraminifera specimens and to provide quantitative data on the contribution of foraminifera to the sedimentary carbon pool in Adventfjorden. The investigation was based on three calcareous species that occur commonly in Svalbard fjords: Cassidulina reniforme, Elphidium excavatum and Nonionellina labradorica. Our results show that the species investigated did not contribute substantially to the organic carbon pool in Adventfjorden, because they represented only 0.37% of the organic carbon in the sediment. However, foraminiferal biomass could have been underestimated as it did not include arenaceous or monothalamous taxa. Foraminiferal carbonate constituted up to 38% of the inorganic carbon in the sediment, which supports the assumption that in fjords where non-calcifying organisms dominate the benthic fauna foraminifera are among the major producers of calcium carbonate and that they play crucial roles in the carbon burial process. The results presented in this study contribute to estimations of changes in foraminiferal carbon levels in contemporary environments and could be an important reference for palaeoceanographic studies.