|Tube-dwelling and burrowing polychaetes, crustaceans, bivalves and echinoderms are important benthic fauna groups, extensively used in monitoring of environmental status.|
Benthic faunal communities, which often comprise more than 10000 individuals of more than 150 species per square m2 are among the richest and most diverse faunal assemblages in the world. In Arctic areas, new benthic animal species are frequently found. To fully understand and monitor environmental change using benthic communities, knowledge on the individual species (how they look), reproductive strategy, life cycle and tolerance of environmental variation is essential.
One of the tasks of ASBD is to further our understanding of the benthic fauna in the area, and the processes that affect them. This is a direct contribution to improved interpretation of the baseline and follow-up surveys that take place routinely around the sites of petroleum exploration.
In order to do this, we need to improve our knowledge of the sea floor in the area, because several factors that may affect benthic faunal communities exist, but these are not taken into account during routine surveys. Such factors include:
- macrobenthic foraminifera (e.g. Hyperammina);
- dense mats of sponge spicules in certain areas off Finnmark:
- pock-marks, trawl-tracks, historical ice-scours;
- other geo-physical/biological sediment processes (bioturbation, microbial activity, implications for break-down processes etc.)