Biodiversity of Kelp Forests and Coralline Algae Habitats in Southwestern Greenland

Kathryn M. Schoenrock* (Corresponding Author), Johanne Vad, Arley Muth, Danni M. Pearce, Brice R. Rea, J. Edward Schofield, Nicholas A. Kamenos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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All marine communities in Greenland are experiencing rapid environmental change, and to understand the effects on those structured by seaweeds, baseline records are vital. The kelp and coralline algae habitats along Greenland's coastlines are rarely studied, and we fill this knowledge gap for the area around Nuuk, west Greenland. Using subtidal swath surveys, photo-quadrats, and grab samples, we characterised the diversity of floral and faunal assemblages in kelp forests and coralline algae beds. The most abundant herbivore assemblages and the most diverse communities occur in the interstitial habitats of rhodolith beds. In kelp forests, species diversity is higher in epi-benthic (photo-quadrat) and mid-water (swath) surveys. These habitats are not mutually exclusive; Agarum clathratum is prominent in coralline algal habitats, while crustose coralline algae cover the bedrock under kelp holdfasts. Overall, the suite of surveys used capture the diverse communities within kelp forests and coralline algae in Greenland and their differing role in the life history of the inhabitants. Furthermore, coralline algae beds are an important carbonate store, with CaCO 3 concentrations ranging from 28.06 to 103.73 g·m -3 . Our research sets the baseline for continued investigations and monitoring of these important habitats and their supported fisheries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117
Issue number4
Early online date25 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding: Funding for this research was provided by a small grant from the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) and the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society (SAGES) “PECRE exchanges with Europe, North America, China, and India”. The Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant 2014-093 “Calving Glaciers: Long Term Validation and Evidence” funded field research activities and KMS at the University of Glasgow. JV was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council Centre for Doctoral
Training in Oil & Gas, received through Herriot-Watt University (James Watt Scholarship Scheme) and the British Geological Survey (British University Funding Initiative Scheme). JV would also like to acknowledge further support from Oil and Gas UK. AM was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency STAR Fellowship.

Acknowledgments: We would like to thank the GINR and the Nuuk Fire department for their assistance with laboratory and field logistics in Nuuk. We are also grateful to captain Mackenzie Haberman for her help in the
field, and Drs Josephine Nymand, Martin Blicher, Thomas Juul-Pedersen for discussion of research topic and their help with site location and species identification during this research.


  • Arctic
  • Carbon sink
  • Climate change
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem engineer
  • Fisheries
  • Food-web
  • Marine assemblages
  • Rhodolith beds
  • Saccharina longicruris


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