Ecology

The IceAGE project is a follow-up project of BIOICE. Aim of the Icelandic project “Benthic Invertebrates Of ICElandic waters – BIOICE” was an inventory of the benthic invertebrate Icelandic fauna. During this project 3670 samples were collected at 1500 stations in depths between 30–3000 m around Iceland. International specialist for different taxonomic groups dedicated their time and efforts to identify the fauna to species level. As a result, information on the distribution of invertebrate species occurring around Iceland together with data on important environmental parameter is available.

The IceAGE project is going to extend ecological studies on the Icelandic invertebrate fauna beyond the previous approach. We are going to examine the influence of abiotic factors on the occurrence of invertebrate species by means of habitat modelling. Habitat models are species-response models developed from a data set consisting of the response variable (species occurrence) and a set of predictor variables (e.g. environmental parameter). They can be used to predict the spatial distribution of a species in a habitat with known (or defined) environmental settings (=predictive modelling). In contrast to a map that simply shows sampling records, predictive modelling allows the analysis of species occurrences to be extended to areas lacking species records but with known environmental setting or even to future environmental scenarios. The latter is of particular importance against the background of climate change. Iceland as a sub-arctic region is particularly prone to the effects of climate change. The outcome of a successful development of habitat models includes both a geographic and ecological discrimination of species as well as a scientifically based prognosis on potential changes in species distribution and faunal composition in the future.

 

The quality of the research results will strongly depend on the availability of data: data on species occurrences as well as on environmental parameters. As a starting point data from the BIOICE project will be used. Currently there are 1412 data concerning the fauna together with information on temperature, salinity and depth. There is also limited information on sediments. In addition, information available from open sources, literature and cooperation partners will be integrated into our datasets. 

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