The invertebrate fauna of anthropogenic soils in the High-Arctic settlement of Barentsburg, Svalbard

  • Steve J. Coulson UNIS
  • Arne Fjellberg Arne Fjellberg Entomological Research Mageroveien 168, 3145 Tjøme, Norway.
  • Dariusz J. Gwiazdowicz Poznan University of Life Sciences, Department of Forest Protection, Wojska Polskiego 71, 60-625 Poznan, Poland.
  • Natalia V. Lebedeva Southern Scientific Centre, Russian Academy of Sciences and Azov Branch Kola Scientific Centre, Russian Academy of Sciences, Chekhova 41, Rostov-on-Don, 344006 Russia.
  • Elena N. Melekhina Institute of Biology Komi SC UD RAS, Syktyvkar, Russia.
  • Torstein Solhøy EECRG, Institutt for biologi, Universitetet i Bergen, Postboks 7820, N-5020 Bergen, Norway.
  • Christer Erséus Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, P.O. box 463, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
  • Kristine Maraldo DMU, Department of Terrestrial Ecology, Soil Fauna and Ecotoxicology Research Unit, Vejlsøvej 25, DK-8600 Silkeborg, Denmark.
  • Ladislav Miko Faculty of Sciences, Charles University, Vini?ná 7, 120 00 Prague, Czech Republic
  • Heinrich Schatz Institute of Zoology, Leopold-Franzens University of Innsbruck, Technikerstr. 25, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • Rüdiger M. Schmelz University of A Coruña, Science Faculty, Dep. of Animal Biology, Plant Biology, and Ecology, Rua da Fraga, 10, 15008 A Coruña, Spain
  • Geir Søli Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, P.O. box 1172 Blindern, 0318 Oslo, Norway
  • Elisabeth Stur Section of Natural History, Museum of Natural History and Archaeology Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
Keywords: Collembola, Enchytraeidae, Lumbricidae, Chironomidae, Oribatida, Gamasida


The terrestrial environment of the High Arctic consists of a mosaic of habitat types. In addition to the natural habitat diversity, various human-influenced types may occur. For the resident invertebrate fauna, these anthropogenic habitats may be either unusually favourable or detrimental. In the town of Barentsburg, Svalbard, soils were imported for the greenhouses from southern Russia. These soils were subsequently discarded outside the greenhouses and have become augmented with manure from the cowsheds. Both the greenhouse and the cowsheds are now derelict. This site represents an unusually nutrient-rich location with considerable development of organic soils, in stark contrast to the naturally forming organic soils in Svalbard, which are typically thin and nutrient poor. Few previous studies have examined the soil invertebrate communities of human-disturbed or -created habitats in the Arctic. In an often nutrient-poor terrestrial environment, it is unclear how the invertebrate fauna will react to such nutrient enhancement. In these soils, 46 species of invertebrates were determined. Eleven species have not been recorded from other habitats in Svalbard and are hence likely to have been introduced. The native species assemblage in the anthropogenic soils was not atypical for many natural sites in Svalbard. Despite the enriched organic soils and highly ameliorated winter temperature conditions, the soil invertebrate fauna biodiversity does not appear to be enhanced beyond the presence of certain probably introduced species.

Keywords: Collembola; Enchytraeidae; Lumbricidae; Chironomidae; Oribatida; Gamasida

(Published: 17 May 2013)

Citation: Polar Research 2013, 32, 19273,


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Steve J. Coulson, UNIS

University Centre inSvalbard,

Pb 156,

9171 Longyearbyen,


How to Cite
Coulson, S. J., Fjellberg, A., Gwiazdowicz, D. J., Lebedeva, N. V., Melekhina, E. N., Solhøy, T., Erséus, C., Maraldo, K., Miko, L., Schatz, H., Schmelz, R. M., Søli, G., & Stur, E. (2013). The invertebrate fauna of anthropogenic soils in the High-Arctic settlement of Barentsburg, Svalbard. Polar Research, 32.
Research/review articles