Typical Svalbard invertebrates
Photo © Steve Coulson and Bjørn Erik Sandbakk

Examples of the number of invertebrate species names recorded from Svalbard

Overview

When thinking of animals on Svalbard you first perhaps think of the big cuddly ones, the reindeer, fox or the marine animals including polar bears, walrus, seals or perhaps the highly visible (and often noisy) seabirds.  But, whereas there are only three species of terrestrial mammal on Svalbard and only 28 species of birds regularly breed on the archipelago, there are over 1,100 species of terrestrial or freshwater invertebrate known from Svalbard. And this is only a start ( click here for a full list of the recorded species ).  The true number is likely to be greater as only the fauna of the west coast, primarily from Isfjord and Kongsfjord, has been studied in any degree of detail.  However, since most invertebrates are small and often require specialised equipment to collect and observe it is easy to overlook this diversity.

 

 

What is an invertebrate?

Invertebrate is a general term that covers all animals that lack a backbone and hence includes everything from single celled amoebae to insects and worms.

Soil invertebrates including springtails and hard and soft bodied mites.

The fauna on Svalbard.

The areas of Svalbard where the invertebrate fauna has been studied indicated by red ovals.

Despite the large number of species recorded, the fauna is really only know from two localities on Svalbard; Isfjord and Kongsfjord.  There are very few descriptions of the fauna from the north or east coasts.  This is a serious ommision given the differing immigration histories these two coasts are suspected in having.

 

REPORT YOUR OBSERVATION

Research into the species diversity of insects, Collembola mites is an ongoing research theme of the Department of Arctic Biology at UNIS.  Please report unusual sightings of insects to UNIS we will attempt to identify and provide information about any invertebrates collected.


Prof. Steve Coulson,
Department of Arctic Biology,
UNIS,
PB. 156,
9171 Longyearbyen.

Email: steve.coulson<at>unis.no

 

I will try and answer queries about the observation and provide identifications of any animals sent to me.