Polar Biology

, Volume 42, Issue 9, pp 1667–1684 | Cite as

Distribution of macrozoobenthos in an Arctic estuary (Pechora Bay, SE Barents Sea) during the spring flood period

  • N. V. DenisenkoEmail author
  • S. G. Denisenko
  • K. K. Lehtonen
Original Paper


Pechora Bay, located in the permafrost area of the Russian European Arctic, is characterised by highly variable environments due to its shallowness, complex system of water currents, and extensive freshwater input. The results of several benthic surveys carried out in the 1990s showed the stability of distribution of macrozoobenthos in summer. The aim of this study is to assess the status and distribution of the macrozoobenthos during the spring flood period, when the volume of the Pechora River discharge shows a 5- to 7-fold increase, and to determine the relationship of macrozoobenthos distribution to environmental factors. The intensive river runoff provokes ice scouring of the bottom sediments in shallow areas, causing low species richness, abundance and biomass. It was found that estuarine species spread to the entrance of the bay in flood time but the dominant species in five determined communities remain stable. The strongest driver for species richness and biomass is sediment granulometric composition. Shannon diversity (H′) negatively correlated with the organic matter content of the sediments. Assessing the status of the macrozoobenthos showed that it is slightly disturbed only in the small area close to the Pechora River mouth, influenced both by ice scouring and enormous freshwater discharge.


Macrozoobenthos Biodiversity Abundance Biomass Communities Estuary Arctic 



The authors are grateful to the administration and scientists of the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute RAS for support in the organisation of expeditions and species identification of polychaetes, crustaceans and echinoderms. Mr. Henrik Sandler is gratefully thanked for help in sampling. The authors are also thankful to Dr. Mayya Gogina and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. The main part of the study was financed by the Neste Oil Company (now Fortum), Finland, and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (N AAAA-A17–117030310207-3), and the Program of Russian Academy of Sciences ‘Fundamental Research to the Development of the Arctic’ (Project ‘Biodiversity and vulnerability of the Pechora Sea ecosystems’).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

300_2018_2452_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (343 kb)
Supplementary file1 (PDF 343 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zoological InstituteRussian Academy of SciencesSt.-PetersburgRussia
  2. 2.Marine Research CentreFinnish Environment InstituteHelsinkiFinland

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