Editor-in-Chief: Dring, Matthew J.
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Microphytobenthic biomass along gradients of physical conditions in Arctic Kongsfjorden, Svalbard
In contrast to numerous studies on the biomass of marine microphytobenthos from temperate coastal ecosystems, little is known from polar regions. Therefore, microphytobenthos biomass was measured at several coastal sites in Arctic Kongsfjorden (Spitsbergen) during the polar summer (June–August 2006). On sandy sediments, chla varied between 8 and 200 mg m-2 and was related to water depth, current/wave exposure and geographical location. Biomass was rather independent of abiotic parameters such as sediment properties, salinity, temperature or light availability. At three stations, sediments at water depths of 3–4, 10, 15, 20 and 30 m were investigated to evaluate the effect of light availability on microalgae. Significant differences in distribution patterns of biomass in relation to deeper waters >10 m were found. The productive periods were not as distinct as phytoplankton blooms. Only at 3–4 m water depth at all three stations were two- to threefold increases of biomass measured during the investigation period. Hydrodynamic conditions seemed to be the driving force for differences in sediment colonisation by benthic microalgae. In spite of the extreme Arctic environmental conditions for algal growth, microphytobenthos biomass was comparable to marine temperate waters.
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