The terrestrial invertebrate fauna of Edgeøya, Svalbard: Arctic landscape community composition reflects biogeography patterns
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Colonisation and immigration history is often neglected as a factor when investigating community or species distribution patterns. However, for dynamic systems that are still reacting to large-scale environmental change, such as the retreat of the ice since the last glacial maximum, colonisation history may explain a large amount of the variation between geographically distinct communities. The High Arctic archipelago of Svalbard presents an opportunity to test whether it is possible to observe the effects of large-scale biogeographical patterns on species distribution at landscape scales. Svalbard has one of the best described inventories of the invertebrate fauna in the Arctic. Nonetheless, the majority of the species records originate from the more accessible west coast and the invertebrate fauna of the whole eastern region, including Edgeøya, is virtually unknown. Edgeøya is located at the eastern fringe of the archipelago on the boundary between Palaearctic and Nearctic faunas. It was expected that post-colonisation dispersal within Edgeøya would conceal routes to the archipelago. Samples were obtained from six locations along the coast of Edgeøya between 2009 and 2010. 140 invertebrate species were identified belonging to 69 different genera of which 16 are new records for Svalbard. Most new species present an eastern Palaearctic distribution. Habitat variables (percentage cover of moss, lichen, vascular plant, or bare soil) fail to explain 35.5% of the differences among sites. However, cluster analysis reveals a clear east–west distribution pattern across the island suggesting that pan-Arctic dispersal routes can be identified even at relatively short geographical scales.