Typical Svalbard invertebrates; moth caterpiller, mites, flies and spider.
Photo © Steve Coulson and Bjørn Erik Sandbakk

Some facts about insects

Approximately 1 million species of insect have been named compared to "only" 40,000 species of vertebrates.  The total number of insect species is likely to be between 2.5 to 10 million.

40,000 species of mite have been named.

38% of all insect species are beetles.

Over 225 million years old.  Two staphylinid beetles occur on Svalbard.  This family of beetle evolved 225 million years ago or, put another way, 160 million years before Tyranosaurus rex died out.

Welcome to S.P.I.D.E.R.

Here you will find an information source concerning the terrestrial and freshwater invertebrate fauna of Svalbard. What is an 'invertebrate'? Invertebrate is a general term for all animals without backbones, for example, insects, spiders and worms.

There are some 1,100 species of invertebrate recorded from the archipelago including 230 species of insect and 19 species of spider but they are often hard to observe. The aim of this webpage is to provide information about this group of animals, for example, what is here? How did it get here, and how does it survive here?

A detailed review recently appeared in the journal Soil Biology and Biochemistry: Coulson, S.J., Convey, P., Aakra, K., Aarvik, L., Ávila-Jiménez, M.L., Babenko, A., Biersma, E., Boström, S., Brittain, J., Carlsson, A.M., Christoffersen, K.S., De Smet, W.H., Ekrem, T., Fjellberg, A., Füreder, L., Gustafsson, D., Gwiazdowicz, D.J.,  Hansen, L.O., Holmstrup M., Kaczmarek, L.,  Kolicka, M., Kuklin, V., Lakka, H-K., Lebedeva, N., Makarova, O., Maraldo, K., Melekhina, E., Ødegaard, F., Pilskog, H.E., Simon, J.C., Sohlenius, B., Solhøy, T., Søli, G.,  Stur, E., Tanaevitch, A., Taskaeva, A., Velle, G. Zawierucha, K. and Zmudczyńska-Skarbek, K. (2014). The terrestrial and freshwater invertebrate biodiversity of the archipelagoes of the Barents Sea; Svalbard, Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 68; 440-470.

Collembola <em>(Megaphorura arctica)</em> in a rock crack.

The S.P.I.D.E.R. Project.

This is an ongoing project and the site will be continually developed. It is hoped these pages will be of interest to both locals and visitors to Svalbard.

Examples of Invertebrates on Svalbard.
Examples of Invertebrates on Svalbard.
Steve Coulson is now working at the Swedish Species Information Centre (ArtDatabanken) at the Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU) as a project manager for Artportalen (Swedish Species Observation System, www.artportalen.se) and can be contacted at stephen.coulson<at>slu.se. 


Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund project number 08/04 and the University Centre on Svalbard (UNIS).