BIOICE Isopoda – Distribution, diversity and zoogeography of selected asellote isopod families

Cooperation with Jörundur Svavarsson (Reykjavik, Iceland)

The distribution of species in the deep world oceans remains still poorly understood, partly due to the fact that many species have only been observed at a few locations and major zoogeographical barriers in the deep-world oceans are still poorly defined.

The northernmost part of the North Atlantic Ocean differs from most other parts of the North Atlantic in having a relatively shallow ridge, the Greenland-Iceland-Faeroe Ridge, extending across the Atlantic, separating the Nordic Seas (Greenland, Iceland and Norwegian Seas and the Arctic Ocean) from the North Atlantic proper. The area is further characterized by several water masses with temperatures ranging from <0°C to approximately 12°C. The effects of the ridge on the distribution of benthic invertebrates may be substantial, both due to the physical presence of the ridge and due to the strong thermal gradient in the area.

Asellote isopods are among the most diverse of deep-sea invertebrates. The BIOICE project (Benthic Invertebrates of Icelandic waters) was designed to investigate the faunal composition around Iceland. This project presents the first and one of the most extensive studies investigating the faunal composition and distribution of Invertebrates around Iceland on both sides of the Greenland-Iceland-Faroe Ridge.