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No.166: Database for registered Greenland benthic fauna

Wegeberg, S., Rømer, J.K., Pedersen, H.B. & Lundsteen, S. 2020. Database for registered Greenland benthic fauna. Aarhus University, DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, 18 pp. Technical Report No. 166 http://dce2.au.dk/pub/TR166.pdf


Identification of benthic fauna sampled in the Greenlandic seas still poses quite a challenge, even for skilled taxonomists. The sampling methods and processing most often follows internationally established guidelines, e.g. OSPAR. However, the detailed identification of sampled benthos to highest taxonomic level (genus, species) may be difficult due to limited availability of identification literature and also because many of the sampled species simply may be  little known, or even unknown, to science.

Through a decade of work with Arctic benthos sampling and samples from surveys around Greenland in connection with oil exploration activities, the laboratories at Aarhus University (Bioscience) have gathered a comprehensive knowledge; data, photos and reference library, which is maintained on various forms internally.

As part of the Northeast Greenland Environmental Study Programme, this project aims to maintain and make this knowledge more public available as an aid to support Greenland benthos identification.

The primary result of the present project is thus a database with internal data and knowledge on Greenland benthos from Aarhus University (Bioscience) gathered in a standardised form.

The database contains species identifications from the surveys, which, after quality control, totals:

·       4998 registrations of 483 different species.

·       91 photos of 30 different species.

Access to the database will go through a user interface in a homepage on the internet, and which will be open with a requested logon. At the homepage, you can:

·       Find species registered in samples from benthos surveys in Greenland in connection with oil exploration activities through species groups and lists

·       Search information on these species using genus, species name or epithet

·       Find information about a species; photos, author, references as well as geographic presence presented on a map and depth distribution.

The database is not complete for Greenland benthos. It will only contain information regarding species registered in connection with the latest app. 10 years of scientific identification of benthos in samples from surveys performed in connection with oil exploration activities in Greenland. Therefore, it must be emphasized, that the database only represents positive information with regard to where the species has been registered. Hence, the data do not (necessarily) represent the distribution or distributional limits of the species in Greenland waters.

Maintenance and update of the database is expected to happen in connection with future oil exploration activities in Greenland.

Steffen Lundsteen, who played a key role in this work, passed away September 23, 2018.