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 in the archipelago, there are over 1,100 species of terrestrial or freshwater invertebrate known from Svalbard. And this is only a start. 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.
The fauna on Svalbard
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 omission 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: stevec-at-unis.no I will try and answer queries about the observation and provide identifications of any animals sent to me.