Annual changes in Arctic fjord environment and modern benthic foraminiferal fauna: Evidence from Kongsfjorden, Svalbard

Patrycja Jernas*, Dorthe Klitgaard-Kristensen, Katrine Husum, Nalan Koç, Vigdis Tverberg, Paul Loubere, Maarten Prins, Noortje Dijkstra, Marta Gluchowska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The relationships between modern Arctic benthic foraminifera and their ecological controls, along with their sensitivity to rapid environmental changes, is still poorly understood. This study examines how modern benthic foraminifera respond to annual environmental changes in the glaciated Arctic fjord Kongsfjorden, western Svalbard. Large environmental gradients due to the inflow of warm and saline Atlantic Water and the influence of tidewater glaciers characterise the fjord hydrography. A transect of six multi-corer stations, from the inner to the outer fjord, was sampled in the late summers of 2005 to 2008 to study the distribution of living (rose Bengal stained) benthic foraminifera. Physical properties of the water masses were measured concurrently. In general, nearly the entire Kongsfjorden region was dominated by ubiquitous N. labradorica foraminiferal assemblage that successfully exploited the local food resources and thrived particularly well in the presence of Atlantic-derived Transformed Atlantic Water (TAW). Further, the annual investigation revealed that Kongsfjorden underwent large interannual hydrological changes during the studied years related to variable inflow of warm and saline Atlantic Water. This led to a strong fauna variability particularly at the two marginal sites: the glacially influenced inner fjord and marine influenced shelf region. We also observed significant species shift from the ‘cold’ to ‘warm’ years and an expansion of widespread and sub-arctic to boreal species into the fjord.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-140
Number of pages22
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Early online date16 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Article number: GLOBAL 2679 [?]


This study is a contribution to the ForArc project (‘Assessment of benthic Foraminifera as environmental proxy in the Arctic’, contract number 177520/V30) funded by the Research Council of Norway. Additional financial support was received from the Norwegian Polar Institute and UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø . The authors would like to thank the captains and crews onboard R/V Lance for their always friendly help and support in retrieving the samples during the annual cruises in Kongsfjorden. Our thanks also goes to all cruise participants during the four summer seasons of 2005–2008, Tor Ivan Karlsen and Kristen Fossan for technical support and running the CTD onboard R/V Lance , Jung Hyun Kim and Francien Peterse for providing data on organic matter, Nikoline Rasmussen and Trine Dahl for assistance in the laboratory at the University of Tromsø. We also appreciate valuable comments from Karen Luise Knudsen, Sergei Korsun and Matthias Forwick. Appendix A List of foraminifera taxa identified in Kongsfjorden. Image 1 Agglutinated species Adercotryma glomeratum (Brady, 1878) Alveolophragmium crassimargo (Norman, 1892) Ammodiscus planus Höglund, 1947 Ammotium cassis (Parker, 1870) Eggerella advena (Cushman, 1922) Hippocrepina indivisa Parker, 1870 Hippocrepina pusilla Heron-Allen & Earland, 1930 Hyperammina subnodosa Brady, 1884 Miliammina fusca (Brady, 1870) Silicosigmoilina groenlandica (Cushman) emend Loeblich & Tappan, 1953 Spiroplectammina biformis (Parker & Jones, 1865) Textularia earlandi Loeblich & Tappan, 1957 Trochammina atlantica (Parker, 1952) Trochammina inflata (Montagu, 1808) Trochammina squamata Jones & Parker, 1860 Recurvoides turbinata (Brady, 1881) Reophax arctica Brady, 1881 Reophax curtus Cushman, 1920 Reophax gracilis Earland, 1933 Reophax pilulifera Brady, 1884 Reophax scorpiurus de Montfort, 1808 Reophax nana Rhumbler, 1913 Reophax gracilis Earland, 1933 Reophax subfusiformis Earland, 1933 Quinqueloculina agglutinata Cushman, 1917 Quinqueloculina stalkeri Loeblich & Tappan, 1953 Calcareous species Astrononion gallowayi Loeblich and Tappan, 1953 Buccella frigida (Cushman, 1921) Buccella tenerrima (Bandy, 1950) Bulimina marginata d'Orbigny, 1826 Bolivina pseudopunctata Höglund, 1947 Cassidulina neoteretis Seidenkrantz, 1995 Cassidulina reniforme Nørvangi, 1945 Cibicides lobatulus (Walker & Jacob, 1798) Cornuspira foliacea (Philippi, 1844) Cornuspira involvens (Reuss, 1850) Dentalina baggi Galloway & Wissler, 1927 Dentalina pauperata (d'Orbigny, 1846) Elphidiella arctica (Parker & Jones, 1864) Elphidium albiumbilicatum (Weiss, 1954) Elphidium asklundi Brotzen, 1943 Elphidium bartletti Cushman, 1933 Elphidium excavatum f. clavatum Cushman, 1930 Elphidium excavatum (Terquem, 1875) Elphidium incertum (Williamson, 1858) Elphidium subarcticum Cushman, 1944 Fissurina marginata (Montagu, 1803) Fissurina laevigata Reuss, 1850 Fissurina serrata (Schlumberger, 1894) Glandulina laevigata (d'Orbigny, 1839) Globobulimina auriculata (Bailey, 1894) Islandiella helenae Feyling-Hanssen & Buzas, 1976 Islandiella islandica (Nørvang, 1945) Islandiella norcrossi (Cushman, 1933) Lagena distoma Buchner, 1940 Lagena parri Loeblich and Tappan, 1953 Lagena laevis (Montagu, 1803) Lagena mollis Cushman, 1944 Lagena striata (d'Orbigny, 1839) Melonis barleeanus (Williamson, 1858) Nonionellina labradorica (Dawson, 1860) Nonionella turgida f. digitata Nørvang, 1945 Nonionella turgida (Williamson, 1858) Nonionella auricula Heron-Allen & Earland, 1930 Nonionella iridea Heron-Allen & Earland, 1932 Oolina lineata (Williamson, 1848) Oolina costata (Williamson, 1858) Patellina corrugata Williamson, 1858 Protelphidium anglicum Murray, 1965 Pyrgo williamsoni (Silvestri, 1923) Robertina arctica d'Orbigny, 1846 Quinqueloculina seminulum (Linnaeus, 1758) Stainforthia concava ( Höglund, 1947 ) Stainforthia loeblichi Feyling-Hanssen, 1954 Stainforthia feylingi Knudsen & Seidenkrantz, 1994 Triloculina trihedra Loeblich and Tappan, 1953 Triloculina trigonula (Lamarck, 1804) Trifarina fluens (Todd, 1948) Virgulina loeblichi Feyling-Hanssen, 1954

FundersFunder number
Universitetet i Tromsø
Norges forskningsråd
Norsk Polarinstitutt


    • Annual changes
    • Arctic fjord
    • Atlantic water
    • Benthic foraminifera
    • Svalbard


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