Abstract Project: KOL06c

Biology of Arctic benthic algae

Lars Gutow (AWI)

The west coast of Spitsbergen is one of the most impacted area in the world due to global
warming. The massive benthic seaweed primary production of the Kongsfjorden is only
poorly used by associated consumers. We suggest that this organic matter is exported to
nearby habitats like subtidal mudflats, where it can be trapped into the sediment being
available for consumers during periods of low production. Our aim is to determine to which
extent subtidal mudflats act as storage areas for macroalgae detrital matter and what is
the fate of this organic matter in these habitats in winter. We will determine the community
structure of the benthic fauna and the role of macroalgae detrital matter in the functioning
of mudflats using fatty acids. Our results will provide information about the connectivity
and functioning of major habitats of changing polar coastal systems.

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